Resolutions, those decisions we intend to carry out for the New Year. The personal changes we see that need to be made, the better we know we can do, the failings we need to overcome. Sometimes a herculean effort is the answer, an upheaval, a revolt, an overthrow. There are things that will not change unless we bring to it this kind of force.
However, what if at this point we simply do not have within us the herculean? What if we realize the overthrow fizzled in the past, but the resolution must be achieved, even with the failure of what we thought were our best intentions? Don't give up, hit it again with a new weapon.
In the mid 1950s, a political scientist, Charles Lindblom, came up with a strategy for taking huge tasks and breaking them down into manageable goals. It’s called incrementalism. Don’t try to solve the whole huge problem, just do what immediately needs to be done right now, or take care of just one part, not worrying about the whole for now. However, when this is done over and over, these little increments add up to huge wins. Incrementalism is practiced, and it works - and it’s been a Bible theme for ages before Mr. Lindblom formalized it.
The Word on big wins in little ways -
Job 8:7 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.
Zech. 4:10 For who hath despised the day of small things?
In Matthew 13, Jesus spoke of his kingdom being like a mustard seed, ‘the least of all seeds’. But seeds grow, incrementally, in stages. Matthew 25, Jesus taught that the way to the great things was being faithful ‘over a few (puny is the meaning) things’.
The story goes, from days of old, all the citizens from those particular parts gathered at the county fair. A lot of visiting going on, but one of the main attractions was the ‘strongman’ contest. Various feats of strength were observed, amid the ‘oh’s’ and ‘ah’s’ and hand clapping for the favorites.
But one particular contest was stumping even the strongest of the brutes. A bundle of sticks was handed to each, with the instructions to break the bundle over the knee. Many bruised knees, but no broken bundles. Then, an old man, a little stooped and very much unlike the musclebound, stepped forward to take the challenge. He was met with snickers, even some open jeering, but nonetheless was handed a bundle of sticks.
The elder calmly untied the strands holding the bundle together, then taking each individual stick, broke them one by one over his knee, until every stick in the bundle lay at his feet, broken. He had won the contest, because he came at it in a smaller way that worked.
Whatever stands in front of you now, you can do it, one stick at a time. Get the big win, in little ways. The impact of little things, done well, done tenaciously - in this can be great power for great change.