We are a culture of doers. We don’t like beginnings, we care little about the middle…. we are very interested in the end result. We want that end result….. yesterday…. in duplicate, just to make certain.
This kind of pressure leads the ordinary person to feel that s/he cannot possibly make a difference…. at least, not a real difference. No, in a thirty-minute, prime-time, instant-fix, processes society, there’s no way smiling at a senior, or taking time to read to a child….. listening to a friend who is clearly hurting (or clearly happy!!), sharing in another person’s joy or sorrow….. there’s no way those things ever make a real difference. They are nice things to do…. but the ripple effect is minimal…. or so we think.
I’d like to challenge this notion, once and for all. There are two points to consider: first, the person who just saved eleven people from a burning building doesn’t do that every day….. his/her life is a string of ordinary moments, punctuated by unfathomable courage and valor. The leader who is viewed as “transformational” may, indeed, be transformational. However, transformation doesn’t happen overnight…. no such thing as lightening in a bottle. The transformational leader has invested countless time and tremendous amounts of energy into designing, developing, implementing and assessing a new paradigm. This kind of work demands a lot of time and patience, it will accept nothing less. We’ve all been told that overnight success may look sudden…. but instantaneous success is the exception, not the rule.
Secondly, we dismiss everyday kindness, when we are the ones administering a good deed. Yet, we chastise ourselves about missed opportunities…. to simply do the kind thing. We recognize the ripple effect random kindness has, when we observe others practicing this sacred mini-assignment….. but we can’t see that reflection in ourselves.
Whether you make a huge splash or feed one person in need, the scale of the deed really doesn’t matter. Either of these acts is a mini-assignment, in the grand arc of the Sacred Assignment. The “big stuff” will resonate…. but the little stuff will resonate equally….. differently, but equally. Feeling that a mini-assignment is too miniscule defeats the underlying wisdom of the Sacred Assignment.
How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time….. the size of the bite is immaterial. You were made for greatness, for empowerment, of self and others. Never doubt that the role you play, in the lives of your families, friends, colleagues, community…. all the people whose lives you touch… each of them is a vital part of your Sacred Assignment…. and you are a vital part of theirs. Never miss an opportunity to say to yourself…. “Mini-assignment, accomplished. Well done, good and faithful servant!”