The Power of Small Successes

Today’s blog post is written by Skye Evans, Client Project Manager, Patron Technology.

When people talk about being successful, there are some standard measurements that often come to mind. Things like earning a lot of money, achieving a certain level of respect or recognition, and conquering hard to achieve goals. But success is not one-size-fits-all, for individuals or organizations.

When we get in the habit of celebrating only the big successes, we lose the chance to spread encouragement, passion, and energy. Progress is not only about going from zero to 60 in 5 seconds. It’s about incremental, but meaningful steps in the direction we want to travel. And acknowledging small victories along the way provides the motivation to keep striving. After all, you don’t climb a mountain in a single bound; you climb a mountain one careful, yet daring, step at a time.

With this in mind, there are probably lots of ways to define success at your organization that don’t get a lot of attention. For example:

  • Meeting an intermediate fundraising goal for a campaign
  • Increasing volunteer participation over last year
  • Exploring a new way to advertise events or engage patrons
  • Improving an aspect of the patron’s experience


You might be thinking “That’s your idea of success? These things should be considered business as usual.” My point is that we can all benefit from shifting to a mindset that our ‘business as usual’ is all about achieving success! Isn’t it more exciting and empowering to see yourself (or your team, or organization) as achieving success on a daily basis instead of just getting business done?

So what does this look like in practice? It’s takes a little planning as well as some thought about where you are now and where you want to be. A good first step is to start by acknowledging what is already going well. This can be as simple as taking a moment each day to praise someone in your department, recognizing a team for staying on track with deadlines, or posting progress-tracking reports in a common area so everyone can see what has been accomplished. One of the best things about celebrating small successes is that they can be done by anyone, at any level in the organization. This empowers your staff to really “own” their success and can encourage them to think outside of ‘business as usual.’

It’s often easier to build on momentum than to start from nothing. So once you’ve gotten used to seeing small successes that are already happening, you can start identifying possible areas for improvement. Maybe your development team has done a great job increasing the number of donations received for the quarter. Why not take this chance to look at better and more meaningful ways to thank your donors, which can help increase the likelihood that they’ll give again? In this way you are turning one success into potential future successes!

Let’s face it, we’re pretty busy already. Even if we knew how to increase donations by 100% or sell out every show, we don’t have a whole lot of spare time to fix everything all at once. But we can find a few moments each week to address a little piece of the puzzle. Small success helps to prevent “analysis paralysis” where you get so overwhelmed by the enormity of a task that you never even get started. But the real power of small successes is that they accumulate. Lots of little steps in the right direction ultimately add up to climbing that mountain.

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