Friday, March 27, 2020

Small Wins: More Important Than Ever

In the 1980s, the great social psychologist Karl Weick wrote a paper about the importance of small wins. Weick argued that some problems can be cognitively and emotionally overwhelming. In these cases, people may find it very difficult to make progress toward addressing the issue and achieving their goals. Weick advocated breaking down large, complex problems and goals into smaller, intermediate objectives. Pursuing a small wins strategy could then help people achieve their goals, but lowering stress, creating a powerful sense of accomplishment, and motivating people to continue working on a tough project. Here's an excerpt from that paper:

A small win is a concrete, complete, implemented outcome of moderate importance. By itself, one small win may seem unimportant. A series of wins at small but significant tasks, however, reveals a pattern that may attract allies, deter opponents, and lower resistance to subsequent proposals. Small wins are controllable opportunities that produce visible results.

The idea of small wins seems more important than ever right now, amidst the COVID-19 crisis.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed at times.  Thinking in terms of concrete small wins may help us work toward longer term, stretch goals as well as to tackle very challenging projects.  

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