The Subtle Secret Of Transformation

Great men and women succeed moment by moment, step by step, lifted up by one small victory after another, until they reach a lofty and impressive pinnacle of success and influence.

Similarly, a group or cause can move from obscurity to great renown through making consistent small wins.

Small wins may not inspire much attention, but through methodical persistence something large and awesome is created.

A striking example of the cumulative effect of small wins is that of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980. By February of that year, the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League had won an astonishing 88 games and lost only 27. Under their coach, Chuck Noll, they broke about even with strong opponents and won by a landslide against weaker opponents. With strong opponents, they won 29 games and lost 26 games. Against weak opponents, they won 59 games and lost one game. Thus, their fabulous statistics were based on small wins spread over time.

Another example is that of the rise of the Women's Liberation Movement. The feminist campaign against sexism did not make much progress when they aimed for the big victory of changing legislation, the Equal Rights Amendment. But through the smaller victory of desexing language, they made successful inroads into changing the collective consciousness regarding women's rights. The smaller reforms worked and were adopted with less resistance because they tackled issues of a discernible, size, clarity, and visibility.

Persistent change in small doses over time creates a critical mass and shifts a struggling movement into the dominant paradigm. Never underestimate the power of small, incremental gains.