Today, I find myself thinking about the power of thinking small. Often, we’re told that we need to think big. “Go big or go home.” “You’re thinking too small.”
What our culture’s obsession with size forgets is that small can be extremely powerful. As the Dalai Lama put it (when referencing an Africa proverb):
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
As I’ve written before, small changes can lead to big things: For instance, our entire universe went “from something you could hold in your hands to something at least 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times bigger” (as Bill Bryson put it in his amazing book "A Short History of Nearly Everything").
If you think exponential growth is reserved for universes, consider the fact that you yourself were once 0.1 mm small (much smaller than the dot on the “i”)…. and look at how far you’ve come!
So if size doesn’t matter that much when it comes to our actions, what does?
With the right type of leverage, you could lift something that’s way heavier than you are (don’t try it at home, though). As the Greek mathematician Archimedes reportedly said: “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”
What I learned from practicing wrist locks in martial arts is that a little pressure on the exact right spot has a huge impact. When I practiced this on my training partner, the extremely pained expression on his face told me that I had found the right spot.
Then we switched and my training partner tried to put me in a wrist lock. Even though he was a lot bigger than me, I hardly felt anything. Applying more pressure didn’t help until he found the right spot… at which point I was the one with an extremely pained facial expression.
It’s the same thing in life in general. For instance, in my business, some small actions (such as reaching out to the right people) have resulted in outsized benefits. Naturally, these things should be my priorities. And a lot of other actions were basically just a waste of time. Just doing more of them doesn’t help because if you multiply 0 by 20, it’s still zero.
If you’ve had a hard time with making a specific change in your life, perhaps you’re not thinking small and/or leveraged enough.
What’s one tiny thing you could do this week that might bring you huge results?