It is said we overestimate what we can do in a week and underestimate what can be done in a year. (Or as Bill Gates said in his Netflix special, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what
At the heart of this truism is a mindset that believes change and progress requires something huge from us. It needs world changing ideas, and bold, inspired action. It takes large leaps of faith. A ‘go big or go home’ mentality.
I feel this sometimes myself. In fact, I’ve been struggling with it recently so in part have written this blog to think my way through it (it worked) and to share this with you as I know I’m not alone!
As you might know I’m writing 2 books at the moment (whaaa? TWO books??) Yes, it’s a bit nuts but both are important to me. One is on mindsets and how to develop ones that support and empower us. The second is on how to mobilise a nation for change, using the experience of THP Bangladesh as the back drop.
Problem is – I’ve been procrastinating something chronic! TWO BOOKS seems so big, and it was overwhelming me. No matter what I wrote I still had soooo long to go! I realised I had a particular mindset that was inhibiting me, which was a version of ‘no matter what I do I’ll still never finish.’ I was falling into the trap of seeing the outcome I wanted and the gap – and despairing.
This is a common predicament, and can be found whether you’re in an organisation facing challenging times, and you don’t think what you do makes any difference; or you’re a creative trying to do work that matters; or (as I saw in Bangladesh), you’re a woman in a village and can’t see how to earn enough money to care for your children.
Enter the Power of Micro.
These 4 micro distinctions, observed daily, can transform your life. You apply them to areas of your life you want to impact. This could be in building your effectiveness at work, developing better relationships in your life, or achieving health goals. (Or even writing 2 books!)
Micro Compromise is the little trade-off we make. It’s that small easy action you take that you barely notice, but done each day diminishes effectiveness, joy, health or financial wellbeing. Examples include scrolling through social media for 1 minute instead of having an actual break, snoozing through the alarm, or eating desert every night. Small in isolation, but with a cumulative net toll.
What daily micro compromise can you stop doing?
Micro Sacrifice is the small cost we pay in the moment that serves us at a future date. It’s the opposite of compromise. Micro sacrifice is a small discomfort we often don’t mind. Examples include walking up a flight of stairs instead of taking the escalator, or increasing your savings by $10 per week. Small in isolation, but with a cumulative net benefit.
What daily micro sacrifice can you start taking?
Micro Investment is what you contribute to, rather than what you are taking away. This investment is about what and who you give your attention to. It includes being present with someone, and creating moments of connection through a smile or a comment. Micro investments add energy to you and others.
What daily micro investment can you start taking?
Micro Actions are small daily expressions of who you are and the impact you want to make. They don’t take much time nor need a big splash. It could be a conversation you have with a colleague that creates more trust, or sharing an idea at a meeting, or even keeping silent in a situation where you normally take the lead position. Each of these are small micro actions that on their own as a one off won’t amount to much. But as a daily practice has a cumulative effect if focused on areas that are important to you.
What daily micro action can you start taking?
For me, I can see micro steps in each of these quadrants will empower my writing commitments.
Micro really works, even for entrenched, difficult things we want to change.
I saw this in action by the Bangladeshi village woman I mentioned at the top of the blog, who wanted to earn enough to feed her family. A key to her evolution included this leadership mindset of micro.
Her daily Micro Sacrifice was to put 2 taka (AU3 cents) each day toward a kitty which is pooled for her women’s group to borrow for income opportunities.
Her daily Micro Compromise was less sugar in the tea to help her save the money.
Her daily Micro Investment was reminding herself why this was important and sharing this with her family.
Her daily Micro Action was time encouraging other women in the village to join in the group and contribute toward the kitty.
I’ve seen enough leadership in villages to know that over time, with sustained application, these micro steps will build the foundation for her to create change that lasts. I’ve also seen this work in teams struggling with building a leadership mindset when people feel daunted by the scale of the challenge, (or writers too daunted to write!). It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. Like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon, with micro you will look back and wonder how you got there.
There’s much splash, admiration and sexiness for the big things in life, and we measure ourselves against this to our own disempowerment. In truth, all great achievements were caused step by step.
When the gap between where you are, and where you want to be, seems too big, apply the Power of Micro.