“Change moves in spirals, not circles. For example, the sun goes up and then it goes down. But everytime that happens, what do you get? You get a new day. You get a new one. When you breathe, you inhale and you exhale, but every single time that you do that you’re a little bit different then the one before. We’re always changing. And its important to know that there are some changes you can’t control and that there are others you can.” – From the motion picture, Half Nelson
I love this movie, and this quote. As we think about our purpose, and moreover our global purpose, we tend to measure our lives and actions by how “big” of an impact we have. We measure our lives by how “visible” our change is or can be in the world. When we think like this, we overlook our own capacity for change.
To demonstrate this phenomenon, while teaching a course on leadership development last year, I had my students view videos highlighting CNN Heroes; ordinary people making extrordinary impacts on the world around them. After showing the videos, I asked for reactions. Almost every student, in some way, stated, “I just feel bad,” or “I wish I could do that,” or “It makes me feel like I am doing nothing with my life.”
When in reality, as human beings, we have the capacity for change in every second. An example is seen in the quote above. Every time we breathe in air the chemical composition of our own bodies change. A breath is something most of us take for granted every second; for we fail to see and appreciate the complexity and transformative nature of oxygen entering our lungs. Because we don’t automatically see it, we don’t think about it.
The same is true for our capacity to create change on a daily basis. We tend to overlook and lose appreciation for the power of a single conversation, the power of positive energy, the power of a simple smile, the transformative nature of showing somebody else they matter.
Over time, the deserved attention and energy these small moments receive from you will amount to something big. You will not see it now; but try on this Friday to begin noticing the “breaths” in your life; the small moments that can transform your world.