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Think Little

The motto, both spoken and unspoken, of the USA, is to think big.

Thinking Big

We are endlessly talking about big ideas and grand schemes.

For example, the Build Back Better plan of the Biden administration was that it was the biggest investment in America to date.  They were not shooting for a big plan, or even the second-biggest plan.  It had to be the biggest plan ever.

News, especially financial news, is also focused on big things.  It is always the biggest turn-around, the biggest loss, the biggest investment.

In business, we also are enamored with big.  We all want to grow to become bigger.  We want bigger projects, bigger fees, and bigger profits.

Business idolizes companies who become big and often listen or read the words of individuals who directed that company to become big.  Big names are Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jack Welch, and for many, they are put on a pedestal and worshipped.  But unfortunately, very few people know the names of successful small business leaders.

At work, we are always trying to think of the big picture, whatever that is.

We try to plan bigger than our budgets, so when we do grow, we are prepared.  We like big ideas and don’t like small-minded people.  So we use phrases like “think big,” “go big or go home,” and “the next big thing.”

Thinking big is valuable, and it is truly how America got to be the grand county it is, but. .  .

Thinking Small

Norman Vincent Peale is credited with saying.

“Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Although this is a great quote, I always found this saying humorous and revealing.  Norman Vincent Peal had no perception of spatial realities.

The moon is 250,000 miles away.  And other than the sun (93,000,000 miles away), the nearest star is over 26 trillion miles away.  So if you shoot for the moon and miss, the chances of landing among the stars are incredibly slim.

I know I am mixing the logic of literary types, but the point reveals the problem of thinking big.

Thinking big requires us to think in general terms, use vague slogans, and avoid specific details. 

For example, big government programs use round numbers with lots of zeros with dates divided by years or decades.  Community masterplans use big blobs of colors for land uses and fat black lines for highways.  Company growth plans use lots of color graphs, slick paper, and pictures of good-looking, happy employees.

No details are to be found anywhere in these big picture plans.

Although they will never admit it, many “big ideas” fail because they do not consider the small details of how the big plan will happen.

This is why we need to think small.


The benefits of thinking small are:

  1. You know where your first step will be.
  2. You can identify your first series of successes.
  3. Thinking small generates momentum that eventually leads to the big idea.

The Bible

Thinking small as it relates to the Bible is unnatural.  We have a big God, who created a big universe and can accomplish big things.

The Apostle John wrote about John the Baptist referring the Jesus Christ:

He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

John is telling us that the one who becomes big must be deserving of being big.  They need to have the right foundations, the right cause, and the proper justification for being big.

Many companies undeservingly grow to be big only to crumble and fall in a short time because they do not have the right foundation nor the proper justification of being big.

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3 about a proper foundation.  Foundations can be built with gold, precious stones, silver, wood, straw, or hay, but

“. . their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.  14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.  15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss. . .” (1 Corinthians 3:13-14)

How we become big will ultimately be revealed. 

Big plans and big ideas that are well-thought-out with small steps will prosper.  On the other hand, poorly thought-out ideas with no consideration for the small ideas will go down in flames.

Let God be the big thing in your life, and spend your time thinking small.