A Small Change That Makes a Big Impact

Remember all those new year’s resolutions made just six weeks ago? As we started a new year and decade, many people had high hopes for making significant changes in their life and leadership. However, repeated studies show that over 80% of resolutions have already failed by mid-February.

There’s a long list of reasons why so many of us can’t seem to get traction on new goals and initiatives. One common reason is that we have lofty goals and expect change too fast. When change doesn’t come quickly, we get frustrated, lose momentum, and eventually quit our pursuit while feeling like we have failed.

A different approach is needed. Instead of expecting quick change on big goals, we should try focusing on one degree changes extended over time.

One degree can make a big difference – especially over time. Imagine your next flight. What if the navigator plotted a course that was off by just one degree?

Aviators will tell you that for every one degree traveled off course for 60 miles, the plane will land 1 mile off the intended destination.

So, what does this mean for a trip from Vancouver to London? It means a 79 mile walk to gather your suitcases at Heathrow’s baggage claim!

Applying The “One Degree” Concept to Your Life

The flight example is in the negative. It highlights what happens over time when you are off course just a little. However, if you flip to the positive, you can see the impact of being just one degree more on course over time. You intentionally close the gap between where you are and where you ideally want to be.

Let’s apply the “one degree” concept to your life and leadership. There are several applications:

  1. It’s very important to be as “on course” as possible in stewarding your calling and your resources.
  2. Making a positive seemingly small one degree change in your life and leadership can have a significant impact over time.
  3. The more strategic the change (more degrees), the more exponential the difference over time.

So, rather than getting overwhelmed and discouraged with all the changes you would like to make in your life and leadership, seek to identify one “one degree” change right now. Consider these steps:

  1. Ask the Lord and seek to listen to His response. Pray a question like: “God, in what one area of my life or leadership would you most like to see change in order to conform me more to Christ and bring you glory?”
  2. You can also ask others you trust—your spouse, friends, supervisor or colleagues. Ask them a question like this: “If I were to consider focusing on one area of personal/leadership growth, what would you suggest I consider?”
  3. Identify an everyday habit or rhythmWhat is an everyday habit or rhythm that could reap significant dividends toward your one degree change if you stuck with it over time?

Eugene Peterson’s great book and title, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction reminds us of this principle as well as the calling to keep running with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1).

Cheering you on as you pursue a long obedience to live and Lead Different,

Dr. Steve Brown
President, Arrow Leadership

PS – We can help you get traction on your “one degree” life and leadership changes! Learn more about our Personalized Coaching and the Arrow Leadership Program.