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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Think Small

I admire Dr. Wayne Dyer. He has been studying the Tao for years, and now, with his new book and speaking engagements, he is sharing his discoveries with the world. I can think of no one else as capable and influential as he is when it comes to explaining the stunning beauty and practical power of the Tao.

One of the ideas he expresses with great clarity is "think small, achieve great things." Chapters 63 and 64 of the Tao Te Ching speak of this with clear, concise, graceful yet down-to-earth poetry. Rome was never built in a day; a truly great thing is the gradual accumulation of tiny increments. Dr. Dyer uses his own abstinence from alcohol to illustrate this point. He hasn't had a drink for twenty years which, by any standard, is a remarkable record. He was able to achieve this by focusing on only one day at a time, or even just on the present moment, one moment at a time. On any one day, he has no idea if perhaps the next day he will take his first drink in years; what he does know, with complete certainty, is that it won't be that particular day. It's the journey of ten thousand miles - the way to walk the great journey is by continuously putting one foot in front of the other, focusing only on one step at any given time.

Like many other ideas from the Tao, "think small" is the essence of powerful simplicity. It is so simple that we may be tempted to dismiss it with a shrug and "oh, I already know that." This attitude can cause us to miss its tremendous life-changing power. The one can really apply this idea to life, the one who can discipline himself to do a small amount of work toward a worthwhile goal every day - that is the person who shall enjoy great success. This simple idea has, in fact, transformed Jerry Seinfeld from a novice stand-up comic to arguably the biggest, most popular comedian ever.

Tremendous success by practicing "think small" is guaranteed. Not guaranteed by Lao Tzu, not guaranteed by the Tao Te Ching, but guaranteed by the very principles that underlie human existence - the Tao itself!


Richard said...

I was intimidated by the size of a novel to the point I was not able to get round to even starting to write one. But then it occurred to me that if I wrote a thousand words a day, I'd have a book in 90 days. I write emails that are longer than 1000 words. Suddenly it all seemed so within my grasp.

Michelle said...

This is very true. When attempting to accomplish something, the "big picture" can be daunting, and even in, one turns into a petrified tree made of stone and accomplishes nothing!

Breaking things into manageable steps has the effect of empowering a person to accomplish one part and then the next, and then the next. Pretty soon, the task is completed...anxiety-free and painlessly!

Derek said...

For me, one of the funniest anecdotes from Dr. Dyer was when he said if 20 years ago, someone told him he should not touch another drop of alcohol for the next 20 years, his first thought would be: "20 years? 20 years? Boy, I need a drink."

James M. Jensen II said...

I wish I could share your admiration of Dyer. I used to really admire him, too, but as I learned more about his history and started looking at what he was saying, my impression has become rather negative.

His adoption of the hip but philosophically bankrupt "Law of Attraction" makes me think he's more or less just another New Age guru in it for the money.

That said, the point you mentioned here is a great one.