2.4 Shrink to Greatness

Posted by Mike Kaaks

25 March 2019

2.4 Shrink to greatness-02

You can’t shrink to greatness. Here is a phrase repeated many times over in business dialogues about strategy. At it’s roots lies the competition between certainty and risk – the certainty in the numbers when we cut something away from a business versus the assumption based numbers describing a growth plan.

From a business perspective this phrase can be considered literally and metaphorically. Literally it is about the extent to which you cut away parts of your asset base or take a slice off the size of your work force. Cut too far and you are left with insufficient infrastructure and capability to sustain your current results, let alone grow your enterprise. Metaphorically it speaks of the boldness with which you approach your future and of the courage and leadership required to put effort into widening horizons and creating success for the long haul.

As I gathered my thoughts about this piece it occurred to me that in addition to being a choice about what we prioritise in business, the question can be applied to how we act personally. In section three of this book we’ll dig more deeply into this personal view but for now let’s just consider whether you feel better by limiting the scope of your world, or by expanding your capability and your sense of who you are. The facing page describes this in the words of the Persian wise man of the 13th century – Rumi.

Another personal view of this issue is presented in the work about Mindsets by Carol Dweck. She posits two contrasting positions – the Growth Mindset in which our intelligence, talents, and personality are considered as capable of development and change, and the Fixed Mindset where these qualities are not subject to development. Like so much of what we are considering in this blog, these lend themselves perfectly to a continuum.


  • Hard numbers
  • Certainty
  • Impacts capability
  • Lacks creativity


  • Soft numbers
  • Assumptions
  • Risk
  • Competition
  • Requires Creativity

2.4 Cont

You were born with potential 
You were born with goodness and trust 
You were born with ideals and dreams 
You were born with greatness 
You were born with wings 
You are not meant for crawling, so don't 
You have wings Learn to use them and fly! 

— Rumi

Growth Mindset

  • learn from criticism
  • Find inspiration in the success of others
  • See effort as the pathway to Mastery
  • Persist in the face of setbacks

Fixed Mindset

  • Ignore criticism
  • Feel threatened by the success of others
  • See effort as worthless
  • Give up easily when faced with obstacles

2.3 Cont 2

Think about your intelligence, talents, and personality. Are they fixed or can you develop them?

— Carol Dweck

Absolutely You