The Monuments of Civilization
Briefly consider the following products of mankind’s inspiration, imagination and diligance of execution:
- super highways that cover continents
- massive skyscrapers and bridges
- beacons of light clearly visible from space that span nations
- thousands of orbital satellites
- communication networks that connect humanity, across languages, and physical boundaries. Some by optical fiber, wires, and even enormous invisible bands of energy broadcast and received continually
They all began with small actions. An idea that resonated strongly with a few individuals or just a single mind. The vision of the few was so inspiring that it attracted a few more to the movement, eventually overcoming all resistance and being realized through years of planning and labor. All of these impossible distances (thanks Dave) were covered by the smallest of initial actions, a single step.
The Small that Begets the Large
Let’s review the smallest of starts which precedes enormous energy events. Note that not all of the examples have wonderful outcomes. So precede with some care for those around you, but don’t let caution paralyze you (ok enough fortune cookie wisdom).
- a snow flake leads to an avalanche
- a slight breeze and resonance leads to the destruction of a massive bridge
- a design shrinks exponentially for decades, and revolutionizes the world – transistors ftw
- a single person champions the idea for a format they believe in until the whole world adopts it (TCP/IP, HTTP, RSS, the twitter API?)
- an eccentric dreamer’s few words sparks the one who most needed to hear they could revolutionize the world around them. Sometimes it’s me that dreams, oftentimes it’s you, thanks
Next time you are faced with an impass you can’t imagine your way over or around, consider small actions as an alternative. Precise initiatives may not succeed as fast as we prefer. The ripple becomes a wave, but once the wave grows into a tidal wave, it will be unstoppable. If the vision is important enough, you will find near endless resolve and support from a growing team. Let the wave of collaborative determination carry your community forward.
Case Study’s of Small Actions Enriching My Life
A wonderful example of a small but precise action that changed my life, is the memory of mathematics my brother initiated when I was a child. I repeated answers I did not comprehend at that time.
Ron: “what’s 90 and 90?”
Ron: “what’s 80 and 80?”
At four years old I was already curious about sums and how objects aggregated. My brother had instilled a life long curiousity of understanding the mysteries of mathematics that have served me for a lifetime. That wave has not yet crested (unfortunately my curiousity is balanced with a heavy dose of lazy), but once it does you can count on it being wild and wonderful!
Need more examples?
My father (also Ron) read to me often as a child feeding my wild imagination for decades. We also discuss the finer points of life philosophy and this continues to provide a solid foundation for my beliefs (you can blame my pop for my fortune cookie wisdom). My dad also commuted to Manhattan for many years to provide for our family. You wouldn’t know how much energy got drained from that effort though, as he came home and cooked. My pop, the chef!
My mother (Nanette) took such a fine interest in the quality of my brother’s and my education that she was heavily involved in volunteer work from the PTA to the board of education for almost 15 years. That wasn’t enough though, as we got older she crusaded for environmental safety spending thousands of hours pouring over arcane documents and regulations. All of this because she cares about the world we live in. How could I not have conviction for what I believe in?
What, not enough examples?
Just a few years ago I met my life partner Michelle. Her warmth and energy is so strong that it shook the foundation of my agnostic faith. Each moment I spend with her grounds me in the present. Each second is priceless. Yureka! I now knew real value would be part of my vision for the rest of my life.
It is her love that finally liberated my belief that my thoughts of efficiency and design theory, were actually part of a greater calling. I had allowed myself to become an automaton at work, bored with the wonders of engineering. I finally decided to take a much needed sabatical from my day job. From that one risky decision I have discovered many passions and met fantastic folks online and in person.
First I discovered writing online, while scouring the web for options. Then serendipity lead me to a far out enough idea that it held my imagination, working on the perfect virtual search assistant. While pursuing that goal I discovered a renewed passion in web programming. More importantly, I am developing a keen and resolute sense of critcal value creation with my time.
*note* My good friend @jimocz reminded me that accuracy or direction may have been a better semantic choice than precision.
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