Frequently as we go through life, we find things that we want to change. And I’m not talking about dropping a few pounds or switching careers. I’m talking about big, systemic issues–racism, politics, the environment, etc. The problem with those big issues is that, well, they’re so big!
Many times we look at some huge issue and think that because it’s so large, because the odds of success are so long, or because the obstacles are many, that it will take a big huge explosive thing to affect change. How many times have you heard someone say, “Yeah, ______ really sucks, but what can I, one single person, do about it?” Or have you ever thought that yourself?
But do all big problems respond only to solutions that are equally as big? I’d say no. I think we get stuck in this mindset, “Go big or go home,” that colors our view of which actions affect the biggest changes. Naturally we tend to equate “bigger” with “better.” But a big change doesn’t have to happen as a complete one-eighty, about face. A big change can happen slowly, over time, incrementally.
I like to think of systemic changes like asteroids.
Say we have an asteroid hurtling through space toward earth. The problem is big–the asteroid itself is the size of Manhattan. What do you do? Well, you could try to blow it up–use an equally big, radical solution. But all that will do is create a bunch of smaller debris that’ll still hit the earth. Now you have more numerous, albeit smaller, problems on your hands. The best way to deal with an asteroid is with a nudge.
A tiny, itty bitty nudge to change the trajectory of the asteroid by only a degree or two, causing it to miss the earth completely. Crisis averted, and all using a comparatively tiny amount of effort and force. So, too, is it with systemic problems. They don’t require some jarring, enormous solution. A simple, strategic approach–a small nudge–will often produce the biggest changes. All pearls start with a single grain of sand, do they not?