by Michael Holland
Smallifying is a nifty, innovation term which basically means to break large, snarly obstacles down into relatively small, manageable problems. You become more agile as you solve each minor problem and learn ways to improve the final solution. As a men and fathers, we are presented with countless snarly situations as we work to slay the dragons, move the big boulders, and solve life’s toughest questions for our families. Here are several times when thinking small has helped me.
Surviving the 7th grade to 10th grade seasons of kids. Raising kids is a lifelong role we are allowed to pursue if blessed with kids, but it is not always easy. The season that truly tests your willpower and perseverance as a father comes somewhere between 7th and 10th grade, and there are definitely times when your kid is in this season that you must smallify your intellectual capacity to make sure your head does not explode. Otherwise the complexities of friendship drama within the pool of hormone-enhanced teenagers who comprise your kid’s circle of friends might pull you under. You must stay in the moment and listen carefully, paying close attention to who is talking with whom at this very second. And if you choose to stalk your kids and kids’ friends on social media for reconnaissance, smallify all information gained and most importantly, DO NOT GET CAUGHT.
Becoming an orphan at the age of 45. When my mom passed in 2006 I found myself with my brother and sister talking about how we were now orphans since our dad had passed in 1995. There’s a magnitude of awareness that comes over you when you realize you are parentless. You begin to wonder more about your kids and how long they will have you in their lives. Your mind fills up with all the things you want to do and say to them. This is the point at which you need to smallify your thoughts and break down the enormous list into smaller and smaller lists. Ultimately, you need to do one thing with each of your kids. It could be one thing each day or one thing each week: just focus on doing something.
Being a Christian… but not that kind of Christian. Believing in God and professing my belief can prompt some very interesting interactions and conversations. There are many stereotypes and caricatures of Christians that create misconceptions, and I often find myself trying to explain to both Christians and non-believers who I am and where I fit along the spectrum (if I even do fit on it). To smallify this area of my life, I’ve taken on Bob Goff’s mantra of “love does”. Just love and accept people. Who am I to judge what’s right and what’s wrong for someone else? That’s way above my pay grade.
When we work to smallify obstacles, goals, and snarly problems, we create the opportunity to become innovative men and fathers, and (hopefully) become a bit more enlightened when it comes to the roles we are called to fulfill.