One Small Step

I had a big thrill this week. Did I get a major record deal? Win the lottery? Get an all expenses paid trip to my heaven on earth: Hawaii? No, I had a validation that I had made a difference. A small one – but a difference nonetheless, and it felt really good.

I live in an area where there are all these one way streets separated by a median that is filled with lots of plants and trees. On every street where there is this divide, there is a sign with an arrow that says “Keep Right.” I never really noticed these signs until recently. While driving around a corner near my house I almost had a head on collision with a car that clearly didn’t even know this was a one-way street. When I checked at the end of the street, sure enough it was one of the only places where there was no sign letting someone know to “Keep Right.”

I did the typical thing that most of us do, I said, “Someone should really let the city know that there needs to be sign there.” I mumbled that to myself every time I drove by that intersection, thinking that just because I was thinking it, that somehow it would magically appear. I am sure other people thought the same thing, and as time passed by I wondered if there were any other head-on near misses.

So as the universe would have it, I was doing a concert recently and one of the songs I sang that night is my tune, “We Are The Ones That We’ve Been Waiting For.” In the middle of the song I got it – no one else is going to make that call. If I want something to be done about the sign, I need to take the initiative. My friend Alan Cohen says it best: “You spot it, you got it,” meaning I was the one who saw that something needed to be done and it was up to me – not “someone out there” – to do whatever I could to handle the situation.

I got on the phone the very next day, went through all the various offices, people passing the buck and saying it’s not their department…and on and on…but I kept calling until I got someone who said that they would come out and look at it.

Some time passed by and I thought I would have to go for round two of my pursuit. However, just last week while driving home I was amazed – it was there. A simple sign saying “Keep Right” with a big arrow. I was thrilled! Did anyone know I helped create that sign being there? Did anyone care? Probably not, but I was excited. It was a really small thing, but it gave me the feeling of doing something instead of just talking about it.

In all of my workshops and retreats, I always talk about starting with even the smallest thing to bring you closer to your goal. When we look at a project or goal and get overwhelmed, it can lead to a paralyzation of our ideas, creativity and energy. The smallest step will start us on the track of doing something that will lead to the next step, and then the next step. Sometimes all we need is one small step to feel like we have accomplished something.

We hear so much about being involved with huge projects like curing cancer, saving the oceans, wiping out hunger. These ideas all need our support, but allowing yourself to do one small thing each day or once a week to make the world a better place might be enough. I know a woman who loves baking cookies, and each week she brings two dozen to the shelter near her house. Another friend walks the dog of a friend who just broke her leg; another friend puts on a show where she sings and tap dances each month for the convalescent home nearby. Small things, but these people are making a difference.

So I got a sign put up on my street…


What is the one small step that you might want to do?

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