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Small is Beautiful

“...amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results.”

(E.F. Schumacher)


In today's smaller-than-usual post (pun intended), I’m going to talk about why noticing the small and almost insignificant (at face value anyway) can make a big difference. I’ve taken the title of this blog from E.F. Schumacher's famous book of the same name in which he discusses the importance of the individual and how that individual forms part of a network within a wider economic ecosystem or “two million villages”. The “two million villages” analogue is helpful for us within this discussion in that in the same way that an economic system is made up of many small successful enterprises, the same can also be said for us as individuals. It is important to recognise that success (in whatever form that might be for you) is made up of many small successes that have an accumulative effect. Knowing and recognising these small tiny wins can offer you important insights into how you achieve success in your own particular way and within your own particular environment.


When managing change or looking to initiate change it is all too common to feel a sense of overwhelm which can in some cases leads to procrastination. Overcoming this inertia can be difficult as we become more problem-focused in our internal questioning. Where do I start? What if I make the wrong choice? Why are things going wrong? Unfortunately, this problem-centric approach tends to be the default setting for many and is principle-driven by the false belief that if I understand the problem then the solution will be easier to discover.

It is important to recognise that change is a uniquely individual experience. This is why the advice offered by friends and family so often fails to make the situation better. As with everything the buck ultimately stops with you, because it is only you who has the answers, because it is you and only you that can successfully access your back catalogue of past successes.

Mining your past to map out the future

Learning to mine your past successes is not that easy, principally because you are always looking for those ‘significant moments’ of insight that resulted in some sort of eureka moment of understanding. But as is so often the case, the real gold lies in the mining of the mundane, the everyday comings and goings of life. As you are well aware, change is ubiquitous, that is, life is constantly changing, it has a life of its own. A plus point of this is that it makes you a ‘change master’ purely by dint of your experience of life. However, what is required is an increased awareness of change and how you’ve made it work for you in your own unique way.

Easier said than done I hear you say. I hear that a lot, but that’s because you are asking the wrong questions, like they say ask the wrong questions and you’ll get the wrong answers. So the real magic is about asking the right questions, that is asking questions that help you become more aware of what actually works for you. A question I love to ask with my clients is “What are the tiniest of signs that things are moving you towards your preferred future?” But that’s only the start because I’m not just looking for one or two tinny signs, but rather 10, 20, or 30 even tinny signs. Because it is only through the exhaustive exploration of tiny signs that one can begin to recognise what works. The process has to be exhaustive because what works doesn’t always become immediately apparent, paradoxically what you first thought to be insignificant and meaningless can actually turn out to be the key to unlocking your door to your preferred future.

So the devils in the details, go now and reflect on your back catalogue of mini wins and plot your own unique path to your future.

“The smallest turn today will take you to a dramatically different tomorrow.”

(The Messiah’s Handbook)


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