Last week, I again had the pleasure of hosting the Vermont Council on World Affairs. This time, we had a dynamic group of students from Africa studying entrepreneurship and business, and I introduced them to the quantum leap concept and course material. We only spent a few hours together, but we got deep quickly. These students were not messing around with their questions, like, “What is death?”, “How does it feel to to be someone’s role model?”, “Do you believe in God?”, “Who are you?”, and “What is the one word that describes you?” It was so cool to see how these young minds soaked up the information and were really asking deep questions about life.
Teaching this class really reminded me how the word quantum can be misunderstood. Most of the time people hear “quantum” or “quantum leap” and think big, bold, massive changes. But it’s actually the opposite. Quantum is something significant, yes. It’s a sudden, important change. But quantum is also the measure of the smallest amount of energy that something can possess.
Sure, sometimes there are these monumental events in your life that change the entire course of your life. Those happen once, maybe twice, over your lifetime. But more often than not, changes in our life (good or bad) happen because of a quantum shift – those small, yet significant changes.
So, what does that look like? Well, it could mean getting up 30 minutes early to meditate, sending blessings into the world, journal, or workout. Maybe that small adjustment to you daily schedule jump starts your day, helps you make a healthier choice for breakfast, which makes you feel great so you don’t get annoyed when someone cuts you off in traffic, which causes you to open the door for a stranger, which in turn changes the course of their entire day and continues to change the rest of the actions you take over the next 24 hours. Or perhaps you decide to get to the office at 8:00am instead of 9:00am. Instead of getting distracted by email for an hour, you jump into an hour of role playing and practicing call scripts with a team member. By the end of that hour you have a new arsenal of tools to use when you are in need of an objection handler and you’re warmed up and ready to attack the day with confidence, which leads to you landing a new client, which leads to more confidence, which leads to more clients. The ripple effect is real and it can have a dramatic impact on your life. And is started with that one small action of getting up earlier or choosing a new activity to start your workday with.
It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting big outcomes and big results in our life. I’m guilty of it too. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I never want people to stop thinking big. But the trouble people run into is when they think a big result only comes from big events, like winning the lottery or getting a “lucky” break at work. So they wait around waiting for these big events to happen, in the meantime, they are missing the entire point! Don’t wait and wish for it. Big outcomes come from small changes and actions, and a lot of work.
What area of your life are you currently experiencing the biggest challenge or the most suffering? Maybe it’s your health. Maybe it’s your relationship with your mother. Maybe it’s debt. Identify that thing for you and then search for the small change or tweak to your life that you can make that will have the biggest impact. Your life doesn’t change by doing one thing, one time. It’s all about those small, incremental shifts over time. These small actions then become your habits, which ultimately change the entire way you think.
You don’t have to change everything all at once! This is what often paralyses people. Just choose those very, very small actions. At first it will seem like they don’t even matter. But stick with it! It is the small action, compounded over time, that leads to massive results. The problem is, very few people have the discipline to keep pushing through, to master the boredom, to keep doing the small action that doesn’t seem to matter, until one day, it does. Slowly, slowly, and then suddenly, you will achieve those big results you are looking for. But only if you take that one small step first.
Is your biggest challenge your health? Get up 15 minutes early each day and walk. Eventually you will begin to run. Is your biggest challenge your relationship with your mother? Forgive her. Let go of any resentment you are holding on to. That is only hurting you. Is your biggest cause for suffering debt? Start putting $5 a week towards your credit card payments.
You won’t solve these problems overnight. After all, you didn’t gain extra weight overnight or get into a significant amount of debt overnight. It is going to take time. But the only way to get there is by keeping the end in mind and then getting to work on the small changes.
Change is not easy! It’s going to feel really uncomfortable and you may feel like you’re going backwards for a time. That’s okay. Embrace it. Let go. And remember the lobster. Lobsters grow, but their shells do not expand to accommodate their growth? Lobsters feel extreme pressures and stress. Eventually, they are so uncomfortable in their confining shell, that they retreat under a rock to hide from predators, shed their shell, and grow a new one that fits them better. Lobsters do this over and over again as they get bigger and bigger. Each time it is the discomfort that challenges and pushes the lobster to grow.
What has the lobster got to do with you? Well, as you are beginning to grow spiritually, professionally, physically, etc., it’s going to get really uncomfortable! You’re going to have to get vulnerable for a time. You’re going to feel like you’re failing. People are going to question what you are doing. You are going to have to shed old identities and strip away your ego. But I guarantee that you will emerge with more confidence, a strong sense of self, bigger results, and an even larger capacity to give. The suffering and struggle is worth it. Choose your struggle. Make small changes. Get ready for big results.
My goal in life is to grow in order to give and to teach others to do the same. Ask yourself:
- Am I making a small, yet significant change, every day to improve the area of my life that is most important to me right now?
- Am I willing to let go of my current identity in order to become who I am meant to be?
What is your biggest challenge or greatest area of suffering? What is a small action you can take today or this week to make a positive impact on that challenge? Remember, small actions over time will lead to big results.