The Power of Small Wins
Celebrating our Tiny Victories
Research has shown that our brains are more effective when we focus on tiny achievable victories. In this lies the power of small wins.
We have all stood in front of a supermarket shelf amazed at the Plethora of choices that we have and we struggle to make a choice.
There’s a Confucian saying that if you chase both rabbits, you catch neither. When we are given too many choices, we become overwhelmed. We don’t make a choice because we are afraid to make the wrong choice. The American psychologist, Barry Schwartz called it the paradox of choice. We spend so much time weighing the pros and cons that we actually are unable to make a decision.
A few weeks ago, I was driving in a place where country music is incredibly popular and if you know me I love country music. As I was driving, I found myself flipping channels from one radio station to another. After a while I realized it was stressing me. This was because I had to be cognizant of other road users. I had to make sure that I was driving properly. A few minutes later, I turned off the radio. Soon after I chuckled because I realized what had just happened. I had been given too many choices and couldn't choose.
Today we live in a world where everything has to be big. Everything has to be huge and if it is not it, then it really does not matter. Online and offline we are inundated with stories millionaire’s and billionaires who went from nothing to incredible wealth – whether real or not – and we are disappointed in our own lives. Dissapointment begins to set in on account of the "little" progress that we are making. Seeing all the things around us and on social media we begin to measure our lives on an unrealistic scale and resent the small win’s in our lives and very quickly, we give up.
Our inability to appreciate tiny victories affects our personal lives as well. Marriages fall apart because small wins are not appreciated. Our partner gives us a single rose and we wonder, why not a dozen roses, because this other person's partner got them a dozen roses. Our partner spends hours in the kitchen preparing a good meal for us and we come back home from work and go straight to bed because we've had a difficult day. Ignoring the fact that they spent hours preparing a meal for us. Ignoring small wins.
Theresa Amabile and Stephen Kramer in their book, Progress Principle, said “small win’s ignite joy engagement and creativity”. They went on to say “events which seem unimportant can have tremendous effect on our inner work-life”.
The word small and win does not really register in in our minds because we are taught from an early age that anything small cannot be successful. We find it difficult to relate the word small with winning. After all winning is supposed to be a huge event. It is supposed to be big. So the very word small side by side with win is very very difficult for us to deal with.
The Transformational Effect of Small Wins
Karl Weicke, the organizational theorist said, small wins have a transformational effect. When a small win is established it propels us to the next small win and the next and the next which leads to greater and greater accomplishments. If we're on a weight loss Journey and we lose 0.1kg today It might not even register on the scale but if we lose 0.1 kg every day for one month, it will result in a great weight loss story.
J.K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books was living in abject poverty and a raising a child when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. She committed to writing at least one sentence or one page every single day until she finished her first book. We need to retrain our minds to appreciate and recognize the power of small wins. We also need to remind our self that great progress comes from small steps repeated over and over again. They compound to create accomplishments. Big doors swing on small hinges.