Back when I first joined the Army we did not have the privilege of using any high tech gadgets to help us find our way through the wilderness. All we had at our disposal was a paper map and a compass. Initially I struggled with this skill. Soldiers would say you’re you can’t spell lost without an LT (Lieutenant). I would have lived up to that saying if it was not for a wise commander. Eventually I was required by this commander to teach the skill.
In preparing for my class I became an expert at this skill. An interesting issue with using a compass is that if you are even a few degrees off when you take your reading, you may end up many kilometers from your objective. A small incorrect action can get your soldiers lost or worst killed. It was in this realization that I learned how small things make a difference. Small actions can make a huge difference for good or for evil. Below are some ways this works.
How small actions can make a huge difference
One step gets you going
It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. How true is that? You will never get a job that you don’t apply for. You will never get a date with the person of your dreams if you don’t simply ask them. One little step can make or break you on your quest to live a life filled with joy. If you want to change the world you must start with yourself.
What one thing can you do today that will make you more productive tomorrow morning? What one thing if it happened to you would possibly change your life? Do that one thing. Sometimes we make these long detailed list of all of the things that we need to do to succeed and it becomes easy to be discouraged. One thing only is needed. Do one thing. Take a step out your door for a morning run. Once you take that first step just take the second and so on until you are done. One step can restore health and happiness. It all begins with one step.
Two friends can give you courage
Choose your friends wisely. When I was a youth fresh out of high school I became friends with a couple of guys who were determined to be the next Godfather and run a mafia style business. That one action of choosing friends like that could have doomed me to a lifetime in and out of prison.
But instead I chose a couple of different friends who were making the choices needed to succeed at school and a future career. Those two friends kept me on a moral path that even as we have gone our separate ways still impacts my life over 20 years later. Be deliberate about who you call a friend. Go out and choose two friends.
Three pounds of seed can change a village
There is a story where some of the first settlers in America came across a cache of seed, only about three pounds worth. But that seed was used by the settlers to keep them fed. That seed produced not only a crop but more seed. Over time they had all of the seed they needed.
Later when they discovered what tribe had hidden the seed they were able to replace it from a great abundance. We can learn from that concept that we may not have much today but we can use what we do have we will be planting seeds. A little thought today becomes a great idea tomorrow. Start small. Building on your success is more realistic than sitting around hoping for the opportunity of a lifetime. That little success might just be the thing that gets you noticed and your opportunity will come to you.
Four legs hold up a chair
A little bit of stability goes a long way. Try this. Go ahead. Break off one leg of your kitchen chair and then sit. Its just one little leg. Are you able to really enjoy your dinner when you must keep shifting to keep yourself from falling over? When my daughter was three she had an incredible logic. If you plant grass seed you get grass. If you plant flower seeds you get flowers. If you plant bird seed you get, well not really birds. But she want to find out so we let her plant some bird seed.
Initially she would dig up the seed every few minutes and was broken hearted when nothing had happened. We taught her to let the seed have some stability and nurture the soil and it would grow. She was amazed a few weeks later when a sunflower from the bird seed had blossomed. But it all started with some stability.
Five minutes can change a life
One of my mentors taught that you should never be less than five minutes early. Give yourself that little buffer and you will typically be on time. I cannot count how often that advice has served me when I would have missed critical appointments in my life. Being late for appointments is a major form of disrespect.
We must choose to be on time. Take five minutes to talk with someone who needs a friend. Most of us can actually spare those few minutes even if it does not feel that way. But five minutes of focused attention can help someone feel like they are important and valuable. While it cost you nothing it can deeply impact them. Five minutes can change a life.
Where are you at today? When I teach men and women how to set goals I have them start with what they want their legend to be when this life is over. Carefully they create a picture in words or pictures of what they want their life to look like physically, socially, spiritually and socially. When they are done I encourage them to do the same exercise but imagine that they are on their way to that ultimate dream, where are they at on the journey in just five years, then they do it again at one year, six months and three months.
The ultimate destination is what matters most but the other markers serve to let them know if they are on the right road or not. I tell them about my journey across the country. If there were no road signs I might have ended up missing Oklahoma or maybe only gotten to Montana thinking that I had made it. Little things can be the markers that let us know if we are on the right path or not. Take small actions today an see where that leads you.