The smallest act (to change everything)

The smallest act. It’s something I’ve wanted to write about for quite some time now.

What is the smallest act?

It’s the key to every one of my change stories. If I can figure out the smallest step, than I know I can change everything I want.

Thousand ideas, not one realized?

You see, not long ago I’ve come to realize that whenever I wanted to do something new I was always trying to get everything planned at forehand. Most of the time I never even came to realize much of my plans. Frustrating for me and for the people I talked to because I they had a hard time believing that I was serious when talking about my zillionest idea.

Was I for real?

Probably not.

Excuses for doing nothing

Soon I started to look for excuses. Whenever something didn’t work out and another idea didn’t make it out of my head it was definitely not because of me. It was because I couldn’t help it. Well of course I could, and I knew that all too well.

But instead of accepting that sometimes things work out and sometimes things don’t, I started to blame myself and endlessly selfjustify myself at the same time. No room for subtleties.

The real blindspot

This attitude kept me from realizing something much more important, viz. that whatever I wanted to make happen, whatever plan I made, I never took the time to figure out what my first step would be and – this is the key – whether this first step was really the smallest act I could come up with.

Is your first step the smallest act?

Your first step is only your first step if it really is the smallest act, I told myself. The nice thing about the smallest act is that I know I can take this step. And I also know that it matters because it’s what makes me start, it’s what gets me on the road, what gets me moving.

Avoid becoming a cynic

I could make whatever plans I wanted, I could have thousand ideas, if I didn’t manage to get started in a way that would allow me to feel confident nothing would ever happen and in no time I’d find myself becoming cynical and pessimistic.

The smallest act and the biggest bang

The smallest act made a difference. It made me realize that big changes start small. Even the universe started with an infinitesimal crack of friction and it’s effect is still expanding. But without the initial infinitesimal crack I wouldn’t even be writing this post.

Want feedback? Hit the road.

I cannot emphasize enough how important the smallest act is for me. If it wasn’t for the smallest act I wouldn’t be hitting the road, I wouldn’t dare to challenge my ideas and assumptions, I wouldn’t create and design new things, I would only reproduce stuff.

I’ve already written that in order to get feedback, to get interaction with your peers, you need to hit the road. It’s only then that you’ll figure out whether your strategy and tactics are the right ones, whether the goal you had in mind is really what you are striving for.

Change the world. Think big, act small(er).

Everywhere around us change is needed. At the same time the world and global issues seem to big to handle. There’s crisis everywhere. It feels like there’s nothing we can do. And yet we can. All we’d have to do is figure out our smallest acts. And you’d be surprised how close to home the sollutions are.

Congratulations. You’re a great person.

Oh, before I forget. If you make it through the first step, congratulations. It means something. It’s great you’ve figured it out. I hope it may help you and inspire you to continue your journey.

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5 thoughts on “The smallest act (to change everything)

  1. Do you have to go somewhere? No you don’t I guess. Staying here is just fine (for whatever reason).

    You can even express a wish to go abroad and still stay here and feel fine. As long as I respect my wishes I find it much easier to stay true to myself, even if I don’t fulfill them.

  2. boskabout says:

    For me too, goals are not something I have to achieve. It would be great if these goals were achieved, but if it wasn’t possible, I would accept that.

    And this holds too: if you don’t succeed in achieving one goal (or the path to it isn’t the right one), it points a huge arrow where you shouldn’t be going (ie, “lesson learned”).

    I don’t have a long term goal (I didn’t think about it yet, maybe I should go to Mexico or Australia to do so ;-)).

    Perhaps the first small step is defining where you want to go to.

    PS: what’s wrong with not wanting to go anywhere?

  3. @Anne @Boskabout, thanks for your comments. I’ll keep the synapse metaphor in mind (no pun intended :o))

    @Boskabout Do you need a goal first? I’ve thought about that as well, but I’ve came to realize that my current goals are merely indications of directions. The further I’m away from them the more they are an indication rather than a step I or point have to reach. For instance my long distance goal as I see it now is to become an experienced coach in non-violent communication and personal leadership. Yet that is the idea I have now. This idea defines my first steps. But it is likely that after taking a few steps I get the indication that my goals slightly change, that I may be more inclined to teaching instead of coaching. Seeing a long-distance goal as an indication is my way of reminding me to stay openminded.

    How do you experience this? What are your short distance and long distance goals? I’d really like to know.


  4. boskabout says:

    I’ve heard this last week too. They phrased it like this: “big successes are preceded by small successes”. So start small, it will grow eventually.

    It’s a key process in creating actually: break down your goal in smaller pieces, and build those smaller pieces one by one (or if possible, parallel, so the building can be sped up :-)). Ofcourse, you should first know what your goal is…

  5. Great post Hannes. It only takes one little synapse to creak a spark and you’ve captured and that well on many levels.

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