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The Power of Small

The Power of Small

You’ve decided to take on an extravagant vacation over the winter break. But simply deciding to take a trip isn’t enough to actually make it wonderful.

To have a wonder trip, it involves a bunch of small decisions: How do you decide on the perfect destination? When should you travel? Where to stay? What adventures and excursions should you try?

Let’s use Henry Ford’s car business to illustrate how this process works. Most people believe that Ford’s decision to mass produce the Model T is the lynch pin in his success. However, what we fail to see are all the tiny decisions added together that produce a large result.

    Here are the smaller more significant decisions Ford made that made mass producing the Model T the success it was:

    • He reduce the standard workday from nine hours to eight.
    • He doubled the workers pay

    These two decisions alone reduce employee turnover from 370 percent to just 16 percent. And even though he reduced the workday by an hour productivity rose from 40 percent to 70 percent. His decision to focus on employee moral and invest in and improve the lives of his workers made him the world’s greatest automobile maker and a billionaire. This was after he reduced the price of the Model T from $800 to $350 over a nine year span.

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    All these actions, reducing the amount of hours worked per day, doubling their pay and lowering the retail price of the car seem counterintuitive and should have made him lose money. But by making a few smaller decisions that really matter led to the overall decision of mass production a smashing success.

    Don’t we naturally think that bigger is better?

    Research shows that the human brain is hard-wired for efficiency.[1] It seeks and finds the most efficient and energy saving method to do everything. So if possible, our brain would desperately want to just make one big decision that will be beneficial for once and for ever.

    Conscientiously, you are unable to comprehend and understand the process our brain undergoes to do the smallest tasks. You are only aware of larger tasks and processes which are an aggregate of millions of tiny decisions your brain undergoes every second.

    This process and logic should be applied to larger decisions that must be made. You must make multiple small decisions to reach the big one.

      Big is a burden

      There is a reason that big decisions are too hard to make. When you try to make a big decision, you expend a lot of time working and reworking an idea. You try to perfect it. You try to view it from all angles and try to avoid all negative consequences.

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      Aiming for the perfect solution can actually delay and hinder the decision-making process. Very few decisions are perfect without any negative consequences. Striving for a no-consequence solution can lead to you not making a decision at all. And when no decision’s made, nothing’s executed, and nothing gets accomplished.

      Big decisions are also very hard to change. Once you’ve made a big decision, it’s harder to go back and change what’s been done. When you hang you all your hopes on one big decision, you are setting yourself up for a big success or a huge disaster.

      The greater the risk, the greater the consequence. A bad decision can alter your future, ruin your business, cost you money or even a relationship. And when you expend copious amounts of time and effort in making such a large decision, you are more apt to be blind to the fact that your decision was a poor one.

        You’ll stick with it and defend it. You are less likely to change your course which can end up costing you even more time, energy and resources. It’s hard to cut your losses when you make a huge decision.

        Small is big

        You’ve heard less is more, what about small is big? Most successes are not the result of one big decision. Instead, success is constructed from a slew of tiny decisions. Smaller decisions are more flexible.

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        Making smaller decisions also allows you to mitigate risks. You don’t usually make a huge mistake from smaller decisions. Good small decisions create small wins. One small win leads to another and another. They form a chain of good decision-making.

        Big decisions are burdensome and heavy. You are more apt to put off making a decision when a big looming consequence is hanging threateningly over your head. Breaking a decision down into pieces and steps makes the process easier and much less daunting. You progress quicker and build confidence.

        If you decide to to change your lifestyle and eat healthy, it’s better to start by deciding which small actions to integrate into your lifestyle first. In lieu of going completely vegan all at once you may want to start by drinking one more bottle of water per day and replace your normal, unhealthy snacks with fruit.

        If you completely change your entire lifestyle all at once, you will become discouraged. And when you do, it’s hard to shake it off and keep going. However, adapting to drinking more water and eating healthier snacks is easier to adjust and stick to. When you become demotivated and fall off the wagon, it is so much easier to get back up and resume. The risk of failure is smaller which is far less burdensome than trying to cut all meat, dairy and eggs out of your diet in one swoop.

          From bricks to walls

          When you are faced with having to make a big decision, break it down into bite sized chunks.

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          • Think about of the smaller components of this decision.
          • Determine what steps you need to take and what resources you need.

          Make small decisions about these things first. Each small decision adds to the larger one and before you know it, you’ve reached your intended goal.

          Think about Henry Ford and the small adjustments he made. By using the process of small decisions, he changed the entire manufacturing industry forever, impacted the lives of his workers, made the Model T affordable for the common man and became a billionaire during the process.

          Make your big decisions one small decision at a time.

          Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on July 10, 2019

          30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

          30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

          What do your 3pm fridge raid and perfectly alphabetised bookshelf have in common?

          You most likely did both of them when you should have been doing work.

          Procrastination is one of the most human behaviours. We’re all guilty of putting off what we know is important from time to time, and it seems the more pressing the task at hand, the better we are at avoiding it.

          Sure, it means that every time we have an important deadline we end up with a spotlessly clean house and a completely empty inbox, but the real work gets left until the very last minute and is finished in a frenzy of stress and caffeine.

          But we can gain control over procrastination by noticing it as soon as possible and stopping it in its tracks. On the contrary, you know you have a bad habit when you’re aware you’re putting something off, and you continue avoiding it anyway.

          To start you off with combating procrastination, here are a few quotes to get you in a motivated frame of mind, because if procrastination has any enemies, it’s motivation to work harder.

          A Few Home Truths

            “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
            ― Mark Twain


            “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
            ― Leonardo da Vinci


            “Someday is not a day of the week.”
            ― Janet Dailey


            “Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”
            ― Israelmore Ayivor


            “The man who waits to know everything is the man who never does anything.”
            ― Craig D. Lounsbrough


            “Procrastination is like going to a fancy restaurant and filling up on bread and not leaving enough room for dinner.”
            ― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret


            “Procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear. When we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it.”
            ― Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor


            “Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.”
            ― Matshona Dhliwayo


            “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
            ― Abraham Lincoln


            “A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
            ― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere


            “By what right do I, who have wasted this day, make claims on tomorrow?”
            ― Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes


            “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
            ― José N. Harris


            Some Practical Advice

              “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
              ― Hilary Mantel


              “Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
              ― Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding


              “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
              ― Pablo Picasso


              “It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.”
              ― Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema


              “Do first what you don’t want to do most.”
              ― Clifford Cohen


              “How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”
              ― Stephen Richards, The Secret of Getting Started: Strategies to Triumph over Procrastination


              “How to stop procrastinating starts with believing you can overcome procrastination.”
              ― Robert Moment, How to Stop Procrastinating


              “Never put things off…you will wake up and find them gone.”
              ― James Jones


              Some Tough Love

                “Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.”
                ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph


                “If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”
                ― George Bernard Shaw


                “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
                ― José N. Harris


                “What is deferred is not avoided.”
                ― Thomas More


                “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”
                ― Chuck Close


                “If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
                ― Roy Bennett


                “Your ideas have legs and just as they run through your head, they could be running through someone else’s head and it’s just a matter of who gets to the finish line first. Nothing is new under the sun so act on your ideas.”― Sanjo Jendayi


                “You may not be punished for your procrastination, but for sure you will be punished by your procrastination.”
                ― Debasish Mridha


                When You Need Pulling out of Procrastination

                  “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
                  ― Denis Waitley


                  “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
                  ― Karen Lamb


                  Print these quotes out, stick them on the wall in front of your desk – do whatever it takes to remember why you shouldn’t be putting your work off, or getting distracted by a desire to rearrange your socks into colour order.

                  It won’t be easy, but being aware of how detrimental procrastination is to your longer-term goals is the first step towards overcoming it.

                  More Motivational Quotes

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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