The Snowball Effect of Small Wins
As we continue to learn and understand the five-step process for embracing adversity, we close out the series with the fifth element. In each of the last four weeks, we have looked at the importance of the other four components and the implications when each of those factors is missing from our ‘equation’.
Before introducing the final part, let’s take a quick second to review what we’ve already learned.
The five step process for embracing adversity looks a little something like this:
Vision + Desire + Relationships + Patience + Celebrating = Embracing
However, when we are missing a vision for getting from our ‘here’ to our ‘there’ we lack the direction needed to begin making progress towards our end goal.
When we remove desire from the equation, it’s easy to find ourselves becoming complacent. As a result, we fail to ask ourselves the question, “What else is out there?”
Being in relationships with others provides more than just a support network to lean on during times of adversity. Relationships provide an alternative perspective and another set of eyes to provide aid during times of hardship. Without relationships, we become self-reliant and choose to bear all the weight on our own shoulders.
Last week, I shared that a lack of patience leads to agitation. Instead of choosing to embrace adversity and remaining patient in the midst of our struggles, we will find ourselves agitated, and consequently falling short of the optimal results because we fail to let the process occur.
So, today, I want to take some time explaining the importance of the final piece to our puzzle, and how it directly relates to our ability and/or inability to embrace adversity.
As we work our way through our adversities in life, there are going to be high points along the way as well as some rough patches that leave us feeling defeated. If our vision and desire is to be in a better place at the end than where we are today, then along the way it’s important to remember to celebrate the small victories.
“Small wins in the midst of a life-changing experience are no small feat. When we choose to celebrate these victories, we position ourselves so that we have something to build from. However, when we choose to look-over these small gains, we position ourselves so that it always feels like an uphill battle.”
To help put this into perspective, I’ll use a theory called the snowball effect. The snowball effect is a process that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger…”
In other words, each time one seemingly small, significant event occurs, it creates a momentum that continues to propel you forward in the direction you want to head. And, with each successive event, it’s possible to continue building the confidence needed to see your obstacle as an opportunity.
The Importance of Small Victories
A victory is a victory – big or small. Outside of the experience we gain from ‘winning’ at something, the lessons it teaches us are often times more fulfilling when we reflect back on that moment in time.
“Little victories lead to bigger victories, that affect the battles that eventually win wars.” –Irish Proverb
But, what exactly is a small victory? How will we know when we’ve reached one? What should we do to ‘celebrate’ that win?
All GREAT questions.
A small victory is progress. It’s a small gain. It’s breaking through the wall that you’ve been trying to get through for the last couple of days.
You’ll know when you’ve reached a small victory when you say to yourself, “I feel a helluva lot better now than I did a minute ago.” And, you celebrate these small wins by appreciating that moment in the journey and recognizing it as a break-thru event – as something that gave you the confidence to press on.
When we learn to incorporate small victories into the process for embracing adversity, I believe there are five benefits that we receive.
- We build our momentum to propel us towards the next step, or the next goal
- We minimize the opportunity for failure to creep in
- We increase our confidence level
- We allow us to live for today
- We enhance our lives, and if anything, bring a smile to our faces
At the end of your struggle, it will be these small moments in time that you remember. These memories will be the ones that you look back on and realize were the reason(s) that you were able to make it from where you didn’t want to be to the placed you dreamed to be.
When We Fail to Celebrate, We Succeed to be Overwhelmed
Recognizing the importance of small victories is critical to keeping our spirits high when we are at the core of battling something seemingly bigger than ourselves. Continually passing on the opportunity to appreciate these small wins will eventually compound (snowball effect) into something that affects our attitudes, feelings, and emotions – we become overwhelmed.
Vision + Desire + Relationships + Patience + ___________ = Overwhelmed
“Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant.” –Tim Ferriss
The word itself is in the past tense, so instead of thinking about where we are today, we focus on where we were and why we have yet to arrive at where we want to be. Consequently, we forget about everything in between.
In order to get from where we were yesterday, to where we are going tomorrow, then we have to be present today.
There is too damn much that is going to happen, or could happen, between the onset of adversity and embracing it to the point that you feel as though you have truly arrived in a better place. That whole middle part – it’s filled with options, choices, and possibilities – all of which can be scary when we try to tackle them all at one. Then, it doesn’t take long before we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed.
What happens next?
We shut down. Everything is internalized. We question our ability to arrive at better and easier days. The process goes out the window.
And, at last…
We will be without a vision.
We will lose our desire to move from our ‘here’ to our ‘there’.
We will push away the relationships we do have.
We will make irrational decisions out of lack of patience.
Lastly, instead of embracing adversity, we will find ourselves struggling with adversity.
What’s the adversity in your life that you are dealing with today? Did you lose a loved one? Dealing with financial hardship? Struggling with an addiction? Seeking purpose in your life? Do you have a physical ailment? Whatever you’re faced with, I’m ask yourself this question: “What is the one good thing that has happened to me today?” It could be a smile from a stranger, a kind hello, or a heads-up penny on the ground. It doesn’t have to be big; it just has to be there.
That one good thing – it’s your small victory. Embrace it, but most importantly, celebrate it!