The Small Leap to Success

Last Updated Apr 10, 2008 10:14 PM EDT

Big results happen one small step at a time. That seems to be the message from the top essay from this months' collection at Change This.

"Strive for Minimal Achievement" is its title. Who wants to strive for minimal achievement? Nonetheless, Barry J. Moltz's essay, taken from his January book "Bounce!", is funny, and reasonably wise. In it he has an example of the email he should send his friends telling them of his latest great failure. He takes a shot at people who buy books with the number 7 in the title (i.e., Steven Covey's 7 Habits of successful People and Deepak Chopra's 7 Spiritual Laws). He also has a Zen koan that makes his main point, and I will paraphrase and condense: Two Buddhist monks were trash-talking. One said, my master is so great, he can cross rivers without a bridge. The other said, my master is so great, when he cooks rice, he cooks rice.

We know which one would win in a battle of stand-up comics. But Moltz says in business, the winner is the one who doesn't set impossible goals, but the one who can focus on one thing at a time. In truth, lowering expectations is the best way to feel happy about successes.

Personally, I need a different sort of guide to save me from my own ambitions. But it was a fun read.

  • Michael Fitzgerald

    Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.