Small Wins

Small Wins

Steve Polo

Do not overlook tiny good actions, thinking they are of no benefit; even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel.

- Gautama Buddha 

Dear friends and colleagues:

We’re now in the ninth month of working from home, and for a while it seemed like every day was another challenge to overcome. Over the past few months, the pace of these challenges may have slowed for some of us, and the process of re-adjusting to the new reality has taken over.  

But for many people, the pace has not slowed, and their challenges remain significant and difficult. As a result of concentrating on the effects of these losses, their mental outlook is suffering. Make no mistake, these challenges are real, and when we’re in the midst of difficult times, focusing on our problems can keep us from seeing the next good thing.

One of the good things that we might have overlooked – and could help in all of this – is what I call "small wins."  I’m certainly not the first person to use this phrase, but it seems particularly apt and so dearly needed in times like these.

Small wins are just what they sound like – little good things that happen (or you make happen) that when put together can add up to big wins. Couple this with some luck and an opportunistic outlook and things can start to look better.

The other thing about paying attention to the small wins is that it actually changes how we see circumstances and how we react to them. There is more than just anecdotal evidence for this. An old HBR report that I came upon recently, called The Power of Small Wins, looked at small wins in twenty-six project teams in multiple companies and collected nearly 12,000 diary entries. And what they found was that while most of the progress was categorized as "minor steps forward" (read: small wins), these small wins produced outsized positive reactions.

What was most interesting was that even events that had little impact on a project had “a major impact on people’s feelings about it.”  In other words, these small wins focused people’s attention toward positive outcomes.

Once you begin to see the small wins, you’ll begin to see them more often - and make them happen more often. Small wins can become a habit and the more they accumulate, the more you’ll see the progress. Not to mention, sharing these small wins with others can improve your overall morale and the morale of those around you.

Here are some examples of "small wins" - I urge you to begin your list.

·        A client calls and asked you or your colleague to be on a webinar.

·        One of your latest social media posts got dozens (or hundreds!) of likes and shares.

·        An unexpected source recommended you to a new client.

·        You got a positive response on a cold call.

·        A co-worker thanked you for hosting a productive meeting.

·        You presented a new idea to your boss and they liked it.

You can use personal wins, too – they add to the positive direction!

So instead of letting the challenging times rule our thoughts, let's use the power of small wins to refocus our outlook. Look around, start making a list, share it with your colleagues and partners – it will make a difference. And who knows, you might even sneak in a big win!

Thinking small (wins) for now,


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