As executive coaches or anyone who engages in corporate coaching, we want to make a big difference. Often, when I conduct 360 interviews for my executive clients, I will ask if there is one area in which the leader in question could make a very small change, a minor behavioral adjustment, or a tweak of a mindset shift that will create the greatest return. In other words, how can a small shift cause a big result? I love asking this question, because it opens up clarity about where to focus with the leader I’m coaching. Of course, the follow up question is, “How would you know if they made that small change? How would that show up for you?”
Leo Babauta, of ZenHabits, wrote a great post that mirrors this point beautifully. You can click here to read the whole post, but I wanted to summarize a few of his key thoughts for you here:
1. One person can make an impact. Don’t feel that it’s hopeless. You don’t need to be someone famous or powerful to have an impact. You can make a difference, you can change things.
2. Concentrate your efforts on smaller and smaller areas. When your efforts are diffused over a wide area, they won’t have much of an impact. So focus on smaller areas, and your efforts will be felt more fully. It could take time for change to happen, but keep that focus narrow.
3. Try to find an area that will cause a tipping point. You’ll have the biggest impact if you can change something that will in itself cause further changes — the rock that causes the avalanche. This isn’t an easy thing, to find that pressure point, that spot that will cause everything else to change. It takes practice and experience and luck and persistence, but it can be found.
4. Don’t try to beat an ocean. You’ll lose. Instead, focus on small changes that will spread.
Learning the Art of the Small
This isn’t something you’ll always grasp instinctively, but you’ll learn its effectiveness when you put it into practice. Want to beat climate change? It’s too huge for one person to change — so focus on something smaller instead. Change your behaviors in small ways, help your children change, help other family and friends change. And teach them to help others change.
Start in small ways — help others, do little good things, and see what the impact of those things are. Never underestimate the power of putting a smile on someone’s face. That smile could change the person’s entire day, and they could go on to do something brilliant that in turn helps thousands of people. All because you did something small that put a smile on their face.
Small things can change the world.