“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” (Peter Marshall)
That little quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog captures the essence of a lot of the problems that we are seeing in politics and elsewhere these days. There is a tendency to spend time thinking or talking about or planning to take on the big problem all at once, instead of just taking actions to resolves little pieces of the problem one at a time. The President spends a lot of time talking about getting a deal done on this or that, while getting nothing done; and, the dysfunctional Congress seems just as happy to do nothing, since that fits into their Radical Right vision of anarchy as the ultimate goal of getting all government interference out of people’s lives.
In our own lives, I’ve written here a few times about tackling problems or challenges by breaking it down into small pieces and doing each of them. We tend to try to figure out the solution to the whole, big problem before taking any action. Sometimes there are lots of little preparatory steps that must be taken before we even can get to the main problem and it the thought of having to do all of those things, just to get ready to take on the problem, that stalls people out. Think about painting a room and all of the furniture moving and drip cloth spreading and edge taping and plug and switch cover removing and all of the other things that need to be done just to get ready to open the paint can. Sometimes it can take as much time in the preparation and post work as it does actually doing the project.
How many times have you passed someone begging on the street and that set off a torrent of thinking and planning about how you could solve world hunger, rather than stopping and giving the guy a couple of bucks to get something to eat tonight? Or maybe you’re on a committee within your church or organization that is wrestling with the issue of declining membership. Rather than go out and personally invited someone to the next meeting or service, you spend all of your time researching or thinking about grand plans to improve things – and nothing gets done.
Instead of putting a lot of time and energy into the planning of a grand solution to the big problems in our society or organization, why not resolve to do what you can right now with the things that are right there in front of you. Do something, rather that thinking about doing everything. If enough of the small, immediate things get done the bigger problem may just fade away. Ask yourself, “What can I do right here, right now to help?” Then just do it. It may be a small thing, but that small deed actually done is better than spending your time planning a big deed that never gets off the drawing board.
Great ideas Norm. For decades Congress has done to many big bills that get us nowhere. We should all learn from that. The idea of doing smaller projects is better and easier and take up less time, and get more done.