I’m an individualist. The heart of my teachings around living a good, purpose-driven life center upon examining your True Self: your innermost values, your stories, your soul-code.
It’s an inward-outward lens. Look within first, then make it real out in the world.
That’s how I think we find our lifelong fulfillment.
And yet, it’s not that simple, of course. We’re social creatures after all. Social norms, cultures, group values and beyond all shape and influence our individual perspectives. We don’t live in bubbles.
That’s why living a fulfilling and meaningful life can’t be as simple as just “knowing yourself.”
Living a meaningful life requires that we know ourselves, and understand what bigger cultures and beliefs influence our individual perspectives.
It’s particularly important to look at the groups we’re each a part of — and how they impact us, individually — when we talk about “creating change.”
I’m going to guess that there’s some change you’d like to see in our world. Big or small. Global or communal. That’s what I mean when I say “change-mission.” It’s just a personal desire to contribute. Maybe you have always felt this way, or maybe you’ve gotten older and started to feel a moral obligation to leave the world better than you found it.
When it comes to “creating change,” I’ve been as influenced as anyone else by our (Western, North American) society to believe that change has to be big, unique, one-of-a-kind, and revolutionary.
It’s as if everyone’s gotta know it, get on board with it, buy it, and start talking about it, for it to matter at all.
Why is that? To me, our (Western, North American) media and culture are not romanticized by itty-bitty efforts.
Conscientious actions don’t make news headlines.
We don’t see best-selling books about patiently evolving your dreams over a couple decades of living.
And yet, for 99.9% of us, that’s how we will actually create our change in the world.
Our culture is one that lusts for the new, the weird, the sexy, the one-of-a-kind. Our society’s attention is drawn towards (and thus implies that it values) the most noisy, attention-grabbing, polarizing, infomercial-fad of a claim to be the best, the greatest, the one and only.
Time and time again, the fad fades. The noise eventually dies.
And yet, something else comes along to fill the vacuum.
Me, I don’t believe this disheartening cycle is so much “our society’s fault” as it is a product of how our human minds work.
Our brains prefer simplicity, even when promised solution is so overly-simplistic that it must clearly be too good to be true. Our brains would rather process a comfortable choice through black-and-white options; easily distinguished lines. And in a lifestyle with tens of thousands of options and choices before us, maybe there’s a reason why we socially gravitate to easy-to-understand options, even when the option is a bad one.
As you contemplate the change, impact or legacy you want to cultivate in the world, remember my Easy-Big Rule:
“If it’s easy, it won’t be big.
If it’s big, it won’t be easy.”
Chances are that investing in an “easy solution” like a Thigh-Master and Buns of Steel on VHS won’t get me on the cover of GQ by summertime.
(Although, if you want me to, I’ll try, if only to prove my point, firsthand!)
What about overly ambitious dreams?
No one wants to tell you to dream smaller – least of all, me. I’m an idealist. I love big dreams and goals. And yet, think about a dream to write your first book as a best-selling book.
Or earning $1 million by next Tuesday.
Or retiring by 30 (when you’re already 31).
You get my point — having some audacious goals can be really fun and very motivating, but, if they actually turn you inside out with fear and dismay?
Then they’re probably too big for actually leading to change.
Me, I wanted my first book to become a best-selling book. That was a big mistake, because I lost sight of what the book actually needed to be: a strong starting point, not “the biggest, happiest outcome I could ever imagine.”
So what if, instead, you parse down the almost-unattainable-“bigness” of a goal — like changing the whole world — and instead focus on a small, deliberate, patient one? What if:
Instead of writing a best-selling book, you write a solid and simple book for a very specific audience?
Instead of changing the whole world, you make your local town or neighborhood a better place?
It’s so easy to get seduced by our desire for big things — big goals, big change, big rewards! — in exchange for the easiest effort, the simplest investment, the too-good-to-be-true offer.
As with my first book, I’ve learned firsthand that wanting “big and easy” is a roundabout way to avoid the very things we say we desire. “Big and easy” is a well-intentioned form of escapism.
It means less work. Less commitment. Less friction. Less responsibility.
…and less to lose.
In 2017, one of my small, deliberate and patient goals is to grow my readership and amplify a better, stronger message to a wider audience.
I’ve been doing that so far by inviting individuals to join my newsletter, which, if you haven’t yet already, you can do below to get articles like this and more in your inbox.
If you’d like to go a step further in helping me achieve my goal this year?
Forward this post as an email to 1 friend who you think would enjoy reading about The Easy-Big Rule and contemplating the concept of how “big begins small.”
Here’s to your big dreams, one small action at a time.
P.S. – Are there exceptions to the “Easy-Big Rule”? Yes, at least 8, and they’re in the sequel to this piece here.
P.P.S. – This article was originally sent to my newsletter subscribers and included a coupon code to a recommended e-course. If you’d like articles like these earlier, subscribe to my newsletter below.