A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about a rule that I often remind myself of:

“If it’s easy, it won’t be big.
If it’s big, it won’t be easy.”

My so-called Easy-Big Rule is a grounding reminder that in the landscape of creating change, doing good in the world, or even transforming your life, big changes usually take time, practice and patience. It’s simply a healthy mentality, I think, to remind yourself that big starts small. Stay patient. Find presence, even as you drift towards future goals.

Sweeping change, even when they mean well, don’t tend to happen overnight (and generally, that’s a good thing).

But today, I want to play Devil’s Advocate and challenge my Easy-Big Rule.

Because, as is the case with most pithy little phrases, the Easy-Big Rule doesn’t lend much to nuance…

For example…

  • Do “big” changes have to be difficult?
  • Do we have to struggle for anything to be worthwhile?
  • That transforming our lives has to start “someday” in the future, instead of right now?
  • That dreams are, altogether, unrealistic?

No, I don’t believe that at all!

The Easy-Big Rule was born of my own need for self-applied centering in the here-and-now. 

I can’t tell you how many countless hours, weeks and months I’ve spent envisioning a future for myself, my business, or my world. In the end, I usually learn that just a little bit of “doing action” lends more towards a bigger goal than spinning my wheels about it over and over again.

My day-dreamer mentality has gotta find balance in practical action.

(If you’re like me, you might resonate with that need.)

So let’s get into the nuance of the Easy Big Rule.

If it’s [easy], it won’t be big.

“Easy,” in this case, is another way to say if it’s…

  • Naively hoping for the best
  • Trying to do everything, all on your own
  • Setting unattainably high expectations
  • Seeming too good to be true
  • So over-simplified that it’s outright simplistic
  • Not a full investment to the process or people
  • Not a fully-pledged commitment
  • Avoiding ownership or personal stakes
  • Not appreciating the full responsibility to others you’re undertaking

…that the “bigness” of the result (from impact to pay-off, reward or simple emotional fulfillment) may to be what you had initially hoped for.

In this case, the Easy-Big Rule is a way of checking yourself and your intentions.

Rather than getting seduced by the image of the ideal, perfect outcome, the Easy-Big rule means to remind you: “Hey, let’s make sure our guiding intentions are pure. Let’s keep ourselves honest to the actual purpose of this undertaking.”

Remember, making change is not like material exchange. You don’t wave a wand, and make love appear. Inviting the kind of change that lasts means evoking in people to make a choice for themselves. Well-intentioned is where you have to begin, but it’s never enough to hope to do good.

Creating change and serving others are offerings; invitations into relationship.

At the very least, you have to be fully committed to those whom you’re hoping to help.  

The Easy-Big Rule challenges you to be honest to your intentions, and not the anticipated payoffs.

Are there any exceptions to the Easy-Big Rule? For sure.

Take, for example when “easy” actually means…

  • Feeling permission to be who you are
  • Feeling encouraged to start from exactly where you are
  • Understanding that no honest effort is a wasted one
  • A direct path into action, giving, or serving
  • Beginning sooner than you may be ready for (I always do)
  • Feeling a sense of flow (this is an important clue – pay attention to it!)
  • An “Aha!” moment that illuminates awareness
  • When doors or connections serendipitously open

If you sense these forms of “ease”?

Sure, the “pay-off” or “reward” may not be “big” (like, turning you into the Dalai Lama overnight), but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be doing something meaningful, loving, kind, supportive, or momentous towards a bigger goal…

…or, at the very least, activating your inner truth and letting that light shine a little brighter.

I hope you see these exceptions and nuances to my own “rule” and understand that they’re only as good as we apply them to our own living experiences.

Oversubscribing to any rule is silly.

And, entrapping.

Turning an adage or idea into “the one and only way” only serves to narrow our viewpoints to a single pointed edge. Sure, that’s convenient: our brains like to make simplicity out of complexity. But a broad range of ideas, competing perspectives, nuance and exceptions is how we progress happens.

Evolution is born from things that seem like faults, startling differences and exceptions.

But they aid our growth, progress, and survival.