“Now is not the time for small steps.”
Go big or go home is one of the easiest things to say. Sounds good. Feels good to say. Even makes people feel good in the room, but, many many times, it’s the wrong thing to do. Many times small steps are what matters. I put this in the same category as big ideas, big dreams and Big Gulps. We romanticize big to such a point that anything less than big doesn’t just looks small, it looks meaningless.
And that is bullshit.
Life is not a choice between small and big. Life is about a complex weave of small and big.
I sometimes believe we embrace big so tightly because far too many of us are seeking to flee where we are, who we are and what we are doing. And the easiest way, we perceive, is some big leap. On rare occasions, this may be so. But I would argue this is an exception, not a rule.
“Sometimes one just gets tired of fleeing.
The world’s very small when you don’t have anywhere to go.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In today’s world fleeing anything, in life or business, is tough. While it may seem like a great big expansive world, the shit that we have a tendency to flee either has some special ray gun that shrinks the world or it is so much faster than we are that it can appear before us no matter where we flee. So the choice between big and small shouldn’t be ‘go big or go home’ but rather what to maintain that creates a path to progress and what to create that either opens doors to progress or gives some additional velocity to the progress.
There’s a lot of navel-gazing when it comes to business. I mention navel gazing because I often think navel gazing is simply a business version of fleeing.
We dream of big steps and ignore small steps.
We dream of innovation and ignore investing in maintenance.
We dream of big ideas and ignore the small ideas.
I will admit.
It often feels like we’re having too many conversations about things that don’t matter and not enough about things that do, in other words, fleeing the shit that matters. In other words, fleeing small steps.
I don’t really understand why because most businesses are an incredibly smart, resourceful, creative group of people and they should be spending their precious attention, energy, and innovative idea skills solving meaningful problems and investing in meaningful initiatives. And this doesn’t mean constantly starting over and constantly pursuing big steps, but rather it is more often on a quest for something big and taking the small steps necessary to navigate that quest.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t engage in thoughtful circumspective dialogue about big shit, but the shit we discuss should be the shit that matters whether it be big or small.
It often feels like business people flee the stuff that matters only to run toward the shit that doesn’t.
I get frustrated because it often feels like we flee the hard maintenance type stuff and use the easy stuff as an easy target. I mostly get frustrated because even if a business organization does this, well, escapa, non. You cannot flee. You cannot escape the stuff that matters.
Here is all I know about fleeing the small stuff and the small steps.
You cannot escape whatever you are fleeing.
Doesn’t matter what it is or where you are.
The small steps ignored can outrun you.
This is true because whatever you think you are fleeing doesn’t reside only in the place you are running from. Those things you are fleeing are things that most often live in a variety of different places & spaces.
In other words. The world is a very small place when you have no place to go. And ‘going big’ just means going big to nowhere. In the end I imagine I am suggesting now is always the time for small steps. Progress comes in all sizes, just not big.