When Small Steps Are Too Big, Try Micro Steps

Micro movements are the tiniest of small steps.

I’ve written quite a bit about how small steps are the best way to pursue your passions, but what if the small steps are still too big? Twice this past week I was shown that the scale of significant change can defy common sense.

Subtle and unmistakeable

The first was with my new singing teacher who warned me, “You are trying way too hard. Your instrument is the size of your pinky.” She put her thumb against the last joint of her smallest finger. “I’m going to have to confuse you, to trick you into experiencing your voice differently without all that effort you are so used to making. You can’t wrap your head around how small the adjustments we need to make are. They are very very small so stop trying to make them.”

For four years I’ve been working my larynx off, trying to sing through my bridge without my crackly break. It’s daunting and discouraging and I’ve been feeling more lost these days than when I started on this journey, and yet last Thursday, while my teacher had me simultaneously wiggling my jaw and hula dancing and breathing into my back and not singing tee-oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee up and down scales into the front of my long nose, I crossed over without an inkling. Before I noticed the height of my ascent I was singing a B above middle C. No crackly break. No effort. And I don’t know how I did it.

Micro movements

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • This world often feels overwhelming.
  • I’m easily distracted when learning something difficult.
  • I gravitate toward certain non-productive stimulation for comfort.
  • Just searching for my socks can trigger a dozen other projects.

I just met Gerardo Pérez who worked for almost 5 years with an autistic boy who at first was so overwhelmed by his environment he couldn’t be touched without significant trauma. There was no possibility of interaction, yet through the long slow process of desensitization and behavior modification spanning years the boy was eventually able to attend school with other kids his age.

While the case of an autistic boy is an extreme example, listen to how Gerardo describes the process he used to help make significant change through the use of micro movements. He offers lessons we could all use, especially when change seems impossible.

The Lessons

Sometimes the tiniest steps are the biggest things we can do.

Persistence can’t exist without patience (plus a couple extra letters).

A little weight in the butt makes for more comfortable sitting.

We would all benefit by listening to our inner Gerardo.

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Leave a comment1 comment on "When Small Steps Are Too Big, Try Micro Steps"

  1. Timely. I just started working on making some small changes in my own life. Love the idea of shadow movements and positive reinforcement.

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