“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.” African proverb quoted by the Dalai Lama
This hits a little too close to home, haha. I have a lotion that I use that keeps the mosquitos away. For real, every time I use this delicious lotion, I have zero bug bites.
But I wasn’t wearing that lotion yesterday and wow, I got a couple of bug bites that are so itchy! Ugh!
Anyway, back to the greater point about small things making a big difference. It’s so easy to start believing that our small actions and small moments don’t really matter. It’s easy to think that the grand, big gestures are the ones that change the world.
But every small step we take counts. I recently started reading the book, A Billion Hours of Good. It’s about the idea that if we all committed just 14 minutes of our day to something that brings us joy and could make the world better in some way, the world would change. That’s 1% of our day. It’s not much when you really think about it. A small amount of time for a big impact.
I remember working hard to keep my small commitments as an elementary principal. I would stand in front of the school to greet children at the start of the day. I would play with kids at recess and practice their first and last names and later middle names (haha!) at fourth grade lunch. I would walk through classrooms and kneel down by children to hear about what they were learning. I would offer a helping hand to the teachers when I could.
These are not grand gestures. They are small gestures but when we commit to doing these small moves every week, they add up. Proximity builds trust. The more we are around people and the more we show them how much we care and how much good we see in them, the more our relationship grows. This is honestly quite simple yet a big miss for many who are overwhelmed by the priorities of their school district.
I saw a Craig Groeschel quote today that said, “I used to think that the best do more. They are engaged in everything. They know all the details about all sorts of things, but I’ve discovered that as a leader, your importance is not based on how much you do, but on how much what you do matters.”
It’s not how much we do. It’s whether we are choosing to do what really matters. And often what feels small in the moment has a monumental cumulative impact. There were things as a principal that I didn’t manage to do. Work that went undone. Work that I didn’t do at optimal levels.
But I loved the people. All of them. The staff and students. And I showed them every day with a smile, a hug, an encouraging word. I showed them by helping clean down tables at lunch duty or with foot races at 3rd grade recess. I won by the way. I have witnesses.
So, maybe I didn’t make the most innovative changes that school year. But I showed up as a human being who worked to center the humanity of those I served.
And perhaps, if we approach our work with that kind of care, the “big stuff” will be made more possible.
If a mosquito can have an impact on how we feel, imagine how a smile, kind word, a positive note, could impact the people in our organizations, young and grown, who are fighting battles we cannot see.
What is one small move you can make to make impact today? Perhaps its a call or text to someone you appreciate. What about a little note in the snail mail to surprise a student or staff member?
The only move that’s too small is the move you don’t make for the right reason.