Edward Lorenz was an expert in the field of meteorology.  Awarded with the 1991 Kyoto Prize for basic sciences, he’s known more as the father of the famed “chaos theory”.  He came up with the concept that small effects lead to big changes (the Butterfly Effect).  His theory explained how something as miniscule as a butterfly flapping it’s wings in Brazil changes the constantly moving atmosphere in ways that could trigger tornados half way around the world.

As he ran calculations, he noticed that a slight decimal point change  (less than 0.0001) wound up leading to a significant error.  That error led to his theory of the butterfly effect.  So what does this mean to us?  Small things make a difference!

The concept of small changes turning into big effects influences many scientific projects, but is readily applied to relationships, sports and business.  The wink of an eye can acknowledge inside information or be seen as flirtatious.  A raised eyebrow can show surprise or disbelief.  Crossed arms can be seen as defensive posturing or a means to keep warm.

Small thinks make a difference in baseball. How the pitcher holds the seams of the ball on his fingers will affect the delivery, movement and speed of the ball differently than if he doesn’t hold the seam.  He can throw a two-seam fastball, a slider, or a splitter depending upon slight adjustments.  The tiny difference in how the ball is held will directly affect the batter’s behavior as the ball nears the plate.  If the batter connects, the behavior of the outfielder changes.  Fans in the stands scream, cheer or cry.  All set in motion when the pitcher gripped the seams of the ball.  Small things – big changes.

Small things – Infinitesimal things – Butterfly wing things.  One leads to another, then another, and another. Small things lead to big results. Who sits where at a conference table affects the relationship of everyone in the room. Picking up the phone on the first ring rather than the fifth significantly changes the attitude of the caller.  Leaving your cell phone on during a conversation with a colleague gets a different response than if you had it turned off. Being quiet for a moment can stir a response.

As business professionals, we are much like baseball pitchers searching for our grip.  It’s a small thing.  Knowing how to do the small things at the right time in the right situations can make you one of the best.  Not mastering this will send you back to the farm league.  Do the basic, simply small things, stay focused, get a grip and deliver your best in 2013.

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