All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects on directly, affects all indirectly.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A butterfly flaps its wings in Japan and a tornado forms over Kansas. So goes chaos theory; or at least one idea within it. Small movements affect other small movements that affect other ones, and pretty soon you have a result that seems disproportionate to each of the small movements.

Life is similar. Leading is similar.


Consider exercise. I chose to run yesterday (small movement). However, many small movements of “choosing to run” create health in my body and the lowest heart rate I’ve ever had. The combined affect of years of working out has paid off. Yet, each workout in and of itself is nothing really but a small action–a seemingly random event that doesn’t produce much on its own.

Consider changing an organizational culture. Leaders are drawn to the dramatic change. And, there are times for big changes. Yet, small behavioral changes (small movements) consistently executed can make a big difference. As small changes add up, they become an avalanche of change that tips the culture in a new direction.

We all know these things. But, King’s quote sheds an interesting light on why small movements can make such a big difference. We are all connected. The mutuality of life, the interconnected nature of things and people is the environment within which seemingly small action makes a big difference.

Again, leaders too often try to change the whole by addressing the whole rather than by making small and strategic movements that will, in the long run, effect the whole. Leading at the front of the room (to the whole) has its place, but it’s often not as effective as leading in the corner (the small movements).

Hmmm…leading in the corner….more on that soon.