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Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Think big. Act small.

Recently, I noticed a familiar saying again, albeit in Dutch: Groter denken, kleiner doen (NRC). The more I think about it, the more I agree. It's generally foolish doing the opposite: think small, act big. Small easily becomes narrow-minded and failure will move fast (eg, arrest).

From a scientific point, the saying also makes sense. A picture of a funnel illustrates the saying. The more input above, the more focus and power below.

In human terms: the more knowledge, beliefs, intuition, and imagination (ie, the 4 types of intelligence) are put in above, the more focus and willpower come out below.

Similarly, turning the funnel upside down, would be foolish and making its application useless.

There are 2 other scenarios: i) think big, act big (eg, Tesla) and (ii) think small, act small (eg, Pay-It-Forward). These 2 other scenarios seem driven by the volume of financial resources (ample versus small) rather than anything else.

Thinking big is necessary because everything in life is connected - a.k.a. interconnectedness. The downside of thinking big is the sheer volume of input factors. To some extent, thinking big is like playing chess: the more you think ahead, the more chances on winning (source 1, source 2).

Thinking small (or narrow-minded) is like ignoring causality, or cause and effect. It also ignores Isaac Newton's 3rd Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (source). Taking the liberty to act big with narrow-minded views, may take away your freedom.

Acting small generally fits the efforts of one (1) human being. Hence, the saying makes sense again. The only tangible help you can give to someone is through deeds. The impact of offering words, like I do, is much less clear. For instance, I seldom receive feedback on my writing despite the many views. Last but not least, human intentions are usually open for various interpretations.

Acting big can easily be misunderstood. The public and private views about Elon Musk of Tesla are almost opposite: world saver versus a devil in (manufacturing) hell. George Soros was once seen as a philanthropist and now as a bogeyman (the Week). Bill Gates of Microsoft took the opposite way: from evil genius to "most significant person of his generation".

If I ever change the name of my Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish blog then I may opt for the title: Think Big, Act Small. My aim in writing is opening people's eyes. That seems small enough although the aftermath could still be big.

Thinking Big (2014) by Martin Gallop


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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