More Small Things That Matter

Mark Masri - 3B
Mark Masri performing in Ohio at a private fundraising event.

And a song can change your life.
A word can open doors.
A melody can take us where we’ve never been before.

A song can change your life.

Mark Masri


Compared with world peace, hurricanes, genuine miracles, and the lottery jackpot, a song, a word and a melody are tiny. Yet, Mark Masri’s song says these three relatively small things can change your life. Do you believe it? I do!  Here’s an illustration.

In a recent golf tournament, our team was down one stroke with only two holes to go. We didn’t know it at the time. (They don’t post scores for amateurs like us.) A birdie on #17 moved us into a tie for the lead. On the final hole, our team executed a 30-foot putt, a firmly stroked shot that hit the back of the cup, popped into the air and came straight down into the hole for another birdie and the lead. Hooray for us!

Soon after, the final group was on their final hole, still down one with a similar putt to tie for the lead. Their putt for birdie also struck the back of the cup and popped into the air. Unfortunately it was a fraction of an inch off center and the ball spun out of the cup. This tiny amount demonstrates how a small difference matters big. Swap that fraction of an inch and they win, not us.

Collectively, from the first hole to the 18th, the winning team’s golf balls traveled over 14 miles. Yet, the difference between winning and second place was determined by something so small it’s hard to measure, except for the outcome. Small things DO matter! Did it change our lives? Hardly! But, within the context of winning a tournament it was huge. On the other hand, small difference-makers like this happen all the time at the highest levels of golf where careers are at stake.

“Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.” –Arthur Conan Doyle


So, maybe you’re wondering what examples of small things could really change someone’s life?  Well, today I started a list.  It has 80 examples that could make a positive difference for you and others.  Don’t be surprised if you visit this post again someday and discover a bigger list.

  • A hearty smile
  • A warm hug
  • A loving kiss
  • A friendly wink
  • A firm handshake
  • A gentle reminder
  • A helping hand
  • A simple act of kindness
  • An inspiring quotation
  • A challenging question
  • A though-provoking question
  • Listening well
  • A timely, insightful answer
  • A fresh perspective
  • An inspiring book or movie
  • Monthly training
  • A weekend retreat
  • A knuckle bump
  • An “Aha Moment”
  • A learning event
  • 5 extra minutes of practice
  • An extra mile of conditioning
  • A thoughtful gift
  • A clean, respectful joke
  • Hearing the sound of your name
  • A word of encouragement
  • A gesture of appreciation
  • A standing ovation
  • Getting up an hour earlier
  • A book every month
  • Taking notes
  • An invitation
  • A song (can change your life)
  • A billboard
  • A singing telegram
  • Replacing the plug after an oil change
  • Proper lighting
  • Arriving 10 minutes early
  • Saving & investing $20 every week
  • Clock set at the right time
  • Favorite color
  • Scheduling priorities
  • Writing in your journal daily
  • Working on your vocabulary
  • A positive mental attitude
  • An attitude of gratitude
  • A fresh idea
  • A meaningful picture
  • A treasured memory
  • Words of hope
  • A warm fire
  • A call to action
  • A soft pillow
  • A quiet dinner
  • A favorite snack
  • A cool glass of spring water
  • A friendly wave
  • A high five
  • An unexpected, unsolicited favor
  • A pat on the back
  • A gracious compliment
  • An honorable recognition
  • A wonderful surprise
  • A greeting card
  • A glorious celebration
  • A completed task
  • The birth of a little bitty baby
  • A child’s first words
  • A child’s first steps
  • A story
  • A drawing
  • A painting
  • A favorite chair
  • Other firsts in a child’s life
  • A winter coat
  • Tying your shoes
  • Looking both ways before crossing
  • Praying every morning
  • An attitude of gratitude
  • A haircut
  • Planned repetition
  • A facial expression
  • Remembering a special occasion

The lesson is this: Don’t underestimate the power of small! What is small in deed can be huge in outcome, especially when it’s repeated frequently.  What could you do today to create “a small, but big” experience for someone you know or encounter?  What if that person was YOU?  Either way, how would that improve your life?

Big and Small - 500x373

Small Becomes Large

Tiny Seeds of Success and Significance

Successful people often recall seminal moments that changed their lives.  At the time, these events often seemed small.  It was only after the fact that they realized how a small event was actually a BIG life-changing moment.  The clarity that comes from experience and 20-20 hindsight can reveal the true impact of many small events. Get out your magnifying glass as we take a look closely at small things that molded big people.

From Farmhand to Philosopher

The late Jim Rohn’s destiny shifted at the age of 25, the day he met his mentor Earl Shoaff.  “Little did I know how this encounter would change my life…”  This meeting preceded many mentoring moments that shaped a lump of clay into “America’s Foremost Business Philosopher.”

Small Moments Bigger Than a Tornado

Ed Thomas, football coach and author of “The Sacred Acre” points to three simple lessons taught by his parents.  These not only stuck with him, but formed beliefs that led to inspiring attitudes, that led an entire community to regain hope, that led to the rebuilding of Parkersburg, Iowa after it was leveled by an EF5 tornado.

“…the greatest power God gives any of us is the power to choose.”

“Adversity not only reveals character; it shapes it if we let it.”

“When you make the right choice, adversity becomes a tremendous opportunity
rather than a problem to be solved.”

Coach Thomas first applied these philosophies in his role as head football coach.  Who would have predicted their importance in the wake of a tragic event?

The Wall of Gratitude

Click to view a short video

One of Zig Ziglar’s favorite life-changing stories was the day P.C. Merrill took him aside and said, “You can be a great one… if, you believe in yourself and go to work on a regular schedule.”  Zig believed these words and the rest is history.  That is, until 1972, when an elderly black woman, who was a weekend house guest, led him to Christ.  He said, “My savior came into my life in a very real way that weekend. I’ve always been grateful that she was not prejudiced.”  Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, I think it’s easy to recognize the significance of this moment in Zig’s life.  Zig is gone from this life, but his countless so-called “small things” are becoming bigger by the minute.

Zig’s “Wall of Gratitude” honors people who were part of his life-changing moments.  If you were to create such a monument, who would be included and what moments would they represent?  The questions below could help you decide.

Questions About Life-changing Moments

Are life-changing moments accidental matters of coincidence or could these apparent accidents be divine gifts?  Can we engineer these moments by the choices we make?  Or is it that our choices are merely the means by which we accept divine gifts?  Who has entered your life to deliver a divine gift?

"Because Your Potential Matters!"


The subject of “potential” continues to turn up in conversations, perhaps because people are becoming increasingly aware of its importance and sensing an urgency about developing it for the sake of their families and careers.  So, let’s spend a few moments reflecting on potential as a concept and finish up with a set of challenge questions to assess our own potential and how we can expand it.


Most of us have a limited perception about our ultimate potential that is based on how we perceive our current potential.  This is self-limiting at two levels.  First, we tend to underestimate the starting point — what we are capable of doing today.  Second, if we underestimate the potential that is presently within us, how can we be expected to recognize the scope of our potential 10, 20, 40 or more years into the future?  So, instead of projecting exponential increases in capacity, we merely add safely to an already understated starting point and arrive at a mediocre estimate that avoids risk and creates an uninspiring target.  Here’s the first question.  How can we see the stars when we’re looking at the ground?

Graphic - PotentialTRUE POTENTIAL

People everywhere are coasting along on the road to nowhere.  Until we regularly challenge our thinking and test the limits of our skills we will never discover the unused potential that’s already available and we will fail to develop new potential that is also within reach.  What we believe is our true potential is but a speck of what is possible if we simply adopt an attitude, strategy, and habit of continuous growth.  Here’s the next question.  What path will you choose, a life of existence or a life of significance?


Discovering how high we can rise in the future begins by recognizing and eliminating the traps we’ve set for ourselves.  One such trap is the habit of comparing ourselves with others.

“Always dream and shoot higher
than you know you can do.
Do not bother just to be better than
your contemporaries or predecessors.
Try to be better than yourself.”
— William Faulkner

Another potential-limiting behavior is ignoring the small things.  Sure, circumstances sometimes require us to skip over small details and move on and being a slave to perfection can also be a trap.  But, the habit of prematurely saying, “that’s good enough” is the most insidious habit because it steals growth opportunities.

What are your traps?  What’s keeping you from growing and realizing higher levels of your potential?


Think of discovering your potential as mining for gold.  It requires strategy, patience, persistence and hard work.  Would it be worth the effort if the results gave you access to life-changing levels of potential?

“You were born to win, but to be a winner,
you must plan to win, prepare to win,
and expect to win.”
— Zig Ziglar

Here are your additional challenge questions:  Where should I be looking for my gold?  What tools will I use?  What will I do today to start my mining expedition?  What opportunities are available to help me get started?  Who can help me stay on track?

Home Runs, Strike-outs and the Alphabet

The alphabet, that wonderful invention that makes possible the books and blogs we read, begins with just one letter.  Likewise, every song begins with that first sound.  Is this a coincidence?

“Why is the alphabet in that order.  Is it because of that song?”

— Steven Wright

In baseball, every strike-out begins with “Strike One!”  Every Grand Slam home run begins with someone getting on base.  Every perfect game begins with someone making an out.  Have we discovered a pattern?

Let’s consider a few more thoughts about small preceding big such as, “Every ending has a beginning and that beginning is something small.”  Sure, occasionally some big thing intervenes in life to stimulate amazing outcomes.  But, without the countless little things that came before and those that followed, that one big thing is impotent and meaningless.

Here’s another. “Everything that matters began with something and that first something began with a decision that led to an action.” Big or small, our lives are driven by decisions.  Then there’s this one.  “Everything big or small matters because it is both the next step in the chain and the first step in a new one.”  Putting these two together leads to this interesting thought.  “Small decisions are the big connections in the chain of life.”  I suspect the truth is that if we could see our lives with perfect vision, memories and understanding we would realize that our greatest achievements were the result of a miles-long chain of seemingly insignificant decisions and actions.

Investing in yourself and others is one of those little things
that’s really not so little.

Go to:
and grab onto such an opportunity that’s waiting for YOU!

Why is it that human beings overlook or ignore the significance of the small, placing their hope on the promise of something big wrapped in a pretty bow?  Here’s the million dollar question.  “What small things are you neglecting that are keeping you from something you really want and need?”  Could it be apologizing to someone you hurt?  Maybe it’s that book you’ve been putting off or procrastination about cleaning your desk.  Then again, maybe it’s something truly big like making room in your life for God.  Take hold of enough of the right things, big or small, and you’ll find yourself beyond success at the very edge of significance!