Part Three | Strengths and Increments: Why Thinking Small is Key to Living Large

SmallStepsLifeEDITFebruary 5, 2016

5 Ideas, 3 Questions, and an Action

Five Ideas 

It’s worth stating that we develop alongside our goals. This means that we grow in our strengths, abilities, and potential as we put in the work.

Setting goals that we can achieve with our current abilities means that we’ve set goals that won’t require us to change, grow, or evolve. Goals like that are just “to-dos” on a list.

For this reason, we must set goals for ourselves that might seem impossible in the moment, knowing that we will build our abilities along the way.

Take, for example, the father who tells his daughter, “One day you will be strong enough to lift a bull.” At the time, this seemed impossible to the small girl. But, her father brought home a newborn calf the next day and told her to lift it up each morning and each night. So, everyday she lifted the animal up as her father instructed. And day-by-day as the calf was growing into a bull, the girl was growing alongside it into an adult. And as the animal grew larger, the girl grew stronger. And, after years of taking small daily actions, she was eventually lifting a full-grown bull.

We can set ourselves up for success by thinking about huge goals in little increments—that is what thinking small is—and when we practice this, we allow ourselves to develop in harmony with our goals and to evolve alongside them.

Three Questions

Am I trying to lift any bulls in my life? What are they? Is there a better approach?

Could I reassess and train myself in on a calf instead and work up to it?

What is one small daily action that I could take and stick to for the next 30 days?—keeping up with the dishes, packing a daily lunch, doing a few sets of push-ups, checking in with someone important in my life each day, etc.

An Action

Desired Result: Creating Visual Evidence that Thinking Small Produces Results

Concrete Action: Writing the alphabet with your non-dominant hand. This means, if you are right-handed you’ll be using your left hand for this exercise—and if you’re left-handed, vice versa. Take a blank piece of paper and write the alphabet as quickly as you can with your opposite hand. Do this repeatedly for 5 mins and do it each day for a week. At the end of that week, compare your first attempt with your last. This virtually guarantees visual evidence of what miracles 5 mins a day can produce. Try it, see it. Impress your friends with your ambidextrousness.

 Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

Circle Photo

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world. He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Strengths Consultant.

Connect with him:


Twitter: @zstrengthslife

Facebook: Zachary Carlsen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s