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Industry Insights

Fighting Small Battles!

Happy New Year everyone! For some of you, this may be your first day back on the job in quite some time. For those of you who were able to take advantage of an extended holiday between Christmas and New Year’s Day, we welcome you back to work.

Our last post of 2016 included some encouragement to celebrate small wins. We’re starting this new year, 2017, with a challenge:

Commit to fighting small battles.

“Everyone wants to save the world but no one wants to help mom do the dishes.”

P.J. O’Rourke

I love that quote. It speaks to the truth that transformation or change is much more of a mundane process and takes place in thousands of little moments rather than in single, epic, earth-shattering kabooms. That is not to say there are no such things as defining moments or life altering events but rather that these are not the norm.

Perhaps you’ve made some resolutions for yourself this year. Perhaps you have a vision for the person you’d like to be. You’d be like millions of others who have resolved to lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, manage their finances better, treat others better, acquire a skill…

Perhaps you have a vision for where you’d like to take your organization. Perhaps you’ve set some goals. You’d be like many other business leaders who are returning to the office with ambitious plans for growth and success.

If, however, you want to avoid being like the millions who will fail in these resolutions and be unable to reach their goals, here’s a little tip: Rather than dreaming of a single, epic, heroic acts of victory, commit instead to battling a thousand or more small, moment-by-moment battles - the kind of battles that shape us and mold us and develop our character.

Small battles are repetitious battles

Commit to deliberate and persistant practice. Repetition builds reputation. Studies have shown that it takes a minimum of 30 days of repeated practice to turn an activity into a habit. We are now learning that the brain can change and grow even into the later years. Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks - provided the old dog doesn’t bite off more than he can chew. Small battles. Repeatedly.

Small battles are private battles

Commit to the truth – especially in the things you tell yourself.

Remember this old adage:
Watch your thoughts for they become your words.
Watch your words for they become your actions.
Watch your actions for they become your habits.
Watch your habits for they shape your character.
Watch your character for that is the legacy you will leave.

You will notice that winning small battles starts with your thinking.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The Apostle Paul, Romans 12:2

Small battles are painful battles

Just because many of the battles we fight are small doesn't mean they're painless. Hence the temptation to give in. Just this once. One measure of a man is that he does what is right even when it hurts. The true measure of a man is what he does when no one is watching.

Small battles are public battles

In a recent Story Brand podcast, Donald Miller's guest shared that his eating, drinking, and sleeping habits affect many other people. Wow. Think about that. Our quality of self care, as reflected in our amount of rest and recreation (or lack thereof), affects the people around us. Therefore we have a responsibility to succeed in the small, mundane, daily habits of eating right, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep.

Small battles are part of a bigger battle

It's like the title of a book by Eugene Peterson: progress is a "long obedience in the same direction." The journey may be winding and adventurous but even a lengthy odyssey begins with a single step. Have a vision to keep yourself pointed in the right direction. Know your values so you'll know how to act along the way.

Small battles are inevitable battles

It's not a matter of if but when. We're all faced with a multitude of choices everyday. No one is exempt. And our choices, even the small ones - perhaps especially the small ones - shape us over time. We are all changing. We're all getting older. The question remains: Are we getting better or more bitter with our age?

Small battles are universal battles

As it is for us as individuals, so it is for organizations and brands.
Commitment to small, persistent actions in alignment with core values builds trust with people. Constant, consistent marketing activities will outperform flash in the pan campaigns.

So take your dreams, your goals and your plans, and chunk them down into monthly, weekly, or daily battle plans. Then fight. And keep fighting those thousands of little battles against pain, complacency, procrastination, indecision, lateness, avoidance, or boredom.

Measure your progress…

And of course keep celebrating your small wins along the way!

All of us here at Compass are cheering for you!
We wish you all a Happy and Transformative New Year!

Written by Jason Bouwman, RGD

January 3, 2017