J. Kelly Hoey

Start Your Big Impact By Taking Not So Small Actions

  • There’s always something you can do to help improve the lot of those with less. And sometimes that small thing is what will keep you going. — @s_m_i
  • If you’re a copywriter or editor and can help your favourite cause reach more people more effectively, go do that. — @s_m_i
  • If you’re someone with the skills to help your favourite non-profit have a website that can accept donations on mobile — go do that. — @s_m_i
  • Some of us have more time than money — so volunteer. Some of us have the cash — research where your donations will have the biggest impact. — @s_m_i
  • Mad about the digital divide in schools and which kids get access to which tech — I donate money to libraries and after-school programs. — @s_m_i

@s_m_i’s (aka SK Journalism Fellow, stacy-marie ishmael) tweet-storm on Saturday morning was the additional sign I needed to continue my newsletter theme from last week. The other sign: I’m reading Tom Peter’s book “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways To Pursue Excellence”. Impact (like achieving excellence) happens when we consistently take small (but not really ‘small’ as in mere, inconsequential, irrelevant) actions. Take your last “random act of kindness” as an example (picture it in your mind), what did you say when you were thanked by the recipient? My guess (like most people) you flipped off an “oh, it was nothing” response.

But it was something. It was a big something.

It — your small random act — may have changed a mindset, a perception, POV or career trajectory.

Back when I was Manager of Professional Development for a global law firm I was tasked with some rather mundane (in my mind) often time-consuming, small, thankless but necessary tasks. Assigning offices to new associates…reconfiguring office assignments for associates when practice groups moved to a new floor…assigning formal mentors to incoming associates…managing check-in for a retired partner dinner…the list endlessly goes on and on. Had I continued to look upon these duties simply as administrative “tasks” they would have continued to exist as bothersome aspects of my job achieving not much more than expected results (i.e. not much accomplished beyond getting it done). Instead I turned those small tasks into opportunities to get someone’s career off on the right foot (career success in big firms is akin to real estate — often it’s location, location, location), to increase an associate’s chances of making partner (if the powers that be don’t see what certain talent is contributing, situate the person so they have to see them), and advance diversity and inclusion (formal mentoring programs are about work, thereby eliminating the “what do I have in common with him/her” hesitation which prevents a dialog from starting in the first place). Barriers mended, bridges crossed by tackling a “task” with care and much more creativity. Small, ongoing tasks are big — dare I say, MASSIVE — opportunities to effect meaningful, long-term change.

Pulling from Tom Peters and “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways To Pursue Excellence”…a little more motivation to take the big (little) steps today to effect meaningful (long-term) change tomorrow:

What…precisely (measure it!!) …have you done lately (last 36 hours!) for your all-important “portfolio” of …internal customers???????????? Message, Age 24 or 74: Engage with all sorts of folks of every age, Keep learning new stuff, And just say…. ”YES”! Fact: There is…alwayssomething…some little thing…you can start/do in the next…30 minutes…to take a tiny, concrete step forward toward solving a problem or creating a new opportunity.

This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter. To get insights in your inbox, sign up here.


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