Big ponds or small ponds?
Every parent or leader should read chapter 3 of Malcolm Gladwell’s, David and Goliath when he argues, “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a little fish in a big pond. Most often highly intelligent students enter the big ponds of Ivy League schools, only to be washed away in a sea of big pond frustration.” Gladwell argues that our chances of success are exponentially higher in small ponds.
I started to wonder how to create small ponds of success across all areas of life. In the video my son Cyrus was struggling one night with math until I created a smaller pond.
A small pond might be as simple as creating an achievable goal.
Ponds are a metaphor for measureable and achievable areas in your life. What if we created smaller ponds for ourselves and not try to compete against everyone?
Here are 5 Perspectives creating depth to your ponds:
- Compete only against yourself. If I’m always competing against others I can never win, there is always someone smarter, wiser, richer and more selfless than me.
- I’ve never been a big goal setter, but now I’m starting to compete against myself and in the process creating a game out of it. The internal success is interesting to watch…no goals needed.
- One way I have started to do this was tracking my time daily; “my time” is now a pond.
- In the video my son was trapped because leading up to completing the timed math test he felt like a failure, the pond was too overwhelming, only until he succeeded did he feel successful. The power of success is interesting to watch in a kid, which works in adults as well.
- Ponds are everywhere once you start thinking this way. Once you have defined the measurable – let the games begin, against yourself.
There will always be Olympic-type outliers who succeed in big ponds but they are exceptions and are most often only the exception in one specific area of their lives. Continuously expanding the depths of my ponds and challenging the width of those around me will create the opportunity to become the outlier when opportunities are presented.
Let the games begin.