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Think big, start small

May 8, 2010

A Leaders Way

By John C. Maxwell
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:53:00 12/26/2009

THE FIRST leadership conference I ever did was quite memorable – not because it was such a resounding success, but because it was so pitiful.

I spent a week in Kansas City teaching leadership to a crowd of 17 people. Yes, you read that right. Seventeen people! Those poor folks didn’t know what they were getting into – they sat there and listened to me from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. for five straight days.

By the last day, I’m sure they hadn’t learned a thing; they were just silently begging for me to stop so they could go home!

That was more than 20 years ago. At the time, I had no way of knowing that I would eventually start my own leadership company and write numerous books about the subject. In fact, the only thing I knew was that I was going to lose $3,000 if I didn’t cancel it for lack of participation.

But I wanted to teach leadership, and I knew I had to start somewhere. So I went for it.

When contemplating the pursuit of a dream or the start of a new venture, too many people are hesitant to begin because they can’t comprehend the entire journey. If that’s where you find yourself right now, don’t expect to understand what it takes to get to the top. Just take the next step.

There’s no shame in starting small; in fact, if you don’t start small, you’ll probably never start at all.

Why else should you start small? Here are three reasons:

1. It encourages you to get started
Accomplishing a small step helps provide the motivation you need to achieve the next step. Have you ever put off starting a project –
revising your company’s employee handbook, developing a new marketing plan, reworking your resume, learning a new computer program, or cleaning out your garage – because it was just too overwhelming?

You know it needs to be done, but you keep thinking, “It’s too big and it’s never going to happen!” With that mindset, you’re right – it won’t happen. But if you break the project down into small pieces and tackle one at a time, the whole thing suddenly becomes much less daunting and much more doable.

2. It allows you to prioritize and concentrate
Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed a thousand, then feed one.” That is profound advice for aspiring leaders.

There are many capable people who could lead one but never do because they’re too busy wishing they could lead a thousand. Starting small helps you concentrate on what you can do now –which often paves the way for bigger things later.

3. It provides the necessary steps to take the next step
You can only expand your life if you’re moving. As my friend Tim Elmore has noted, “You can’t steer a parked car.”
When I talk about the importance of starting small, I’m not trying to dampen your enthusiasm or stifle your dreams. I’m simply giving you a practical way to address your current reality. Think big, but start small.

Don’t despise those single small steps. Just take them. As my first leadership conference proves, you never know where they’re going to lead.

(Attend the Developing The Leader Within You Workshop on January 28-29, 2010 at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel with Maxwell-certified facilitator Francis Kong. Call Inspire Leadership Consultancy at 687-2614 or 0917-8511115.)

http://business.inquirer.net/money/columns/view/20091226-244062/Think-big-start-small

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