On Staying Deliberately Small

The massive rock sailed over my head and crashed into the water in front of me.


I spun around to face my brother standing on a ledge above me, grinning and wiping his muddy hands on a He-Man t-shirt.

“You are such a jerk!”

I narrowed my eyes into a seething glare and turned back toward the lake where I’d been tossing tiny pebbles into the water and watching their ripples extend into the infinity. Occasionally, I threw a handful and delighted as they rained down in tinkling wonderment.

It was a mesmerizing moment on a childhood camping trip–ruined in a way that only big brothers know how to do.

•   •   •    

The magic of flicking pebbles has always fascinated me. The subtle way they make their mark against an accommodating surface, interacting so subtly with the water yet changing it forever.

Chucking boulders? Not so enchanting.

I’m reminded of the incident at the lake so many years ago, when a meaningful moment was interrupted by an attention-hogging effort to do something bigger and better.

So, what does this have to do with business?

I believe there are pebble flickers and there are boulder chuckers. And there is a helluva big difference between the two.

Boulder chucking brands like to make a big splash, gather up every ounce of attention and force people to spin around and ask, “What the hell was that?” They fill up social media feeds with their next big launch/program/service/thingamajig/six-figure business idea. Their impact spreads into the far reaches of your inbox, raking in people like you would fall leaves into a gigantic Hefty bag.

Pebble flicking brands understand the nuances of the lake. They capture attention in a subtle, intriguing way. They’re not for everyone. And that’s okay. Some people will never understand the beauty of a small ripple. They’d rather be entertained by a big splash.

The pebble flickers know exactly where to toss their pebble–on the shadowy side of the lake where the sunlight dances through the trees and glints off the water like diamonds. This is where their crowd hangs out.

When I started my freelance writing company, I knew I would never be a boulder chucker. Building a gigantic audience–one that I didn’t even know, where each person was merely a number on an analytics report–didn’t sit right with me.

I wanted a tight community, one where people could  escape from the dizzying “panem et circenses” (bread and circuses) being hurled at them full force from the other side of the lake. I wanted a deliberately intentional gathering of people who are all about the non-hustle. People who love purpose and courage and odd humor. People who want to be cherished.

The thing about pebbles is that they stuff into pockets easily. You can carry them around with you wherever you go. When you see the need to flick one, perhaps into a pristine pond or a burbling river, you can without hesitation.

Lugging a huge-ass boulder around with you in an XXXL Jansport backpack will eventually make you sag under the pressure. (You also have to strap that damn pack onto your back wherever you go, just in case the moment arrives when you can finally chuck the rock.)

I prefer small–and keeping a stash of pebbles on hand–not because I am afraid of a heavy boulder, but because I don’t want all of that extra weight limiting what I’m able to do in this life.

Pebbles skirting across the water and leaving tiny ripples in their wake is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

To being small but mighty,

8 comments leave a reply
  • August 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm
    Ingrid Cliff

    Your ripples reach further than you know! I adore your use of language and stories. I am a fellow pebble carrier with subtle splashes rather than boulders.


    • August 24, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks for the comment, my fellow pebble flicker! I love telling stories to convey heartfelt… and important… messages. Keep on gathering those pebbles, Ingrid. 🙂


  • August 22, 2015 at 5:28 am

    That’s a really charming metaphor 🙂
    I’ve been thinking about pebbles and ripples as a visual for making a mark in your community, shaking things up, standing out… but I haven’t thought about the difference between a big stone and a pebble, between a loud *splash* and a quiet *plop*… Something to think about.


    • August 24, 2015 at 5:40 pm

      Yep, definitely. Both still fan out into the blueness, just in different ways.


  • August 22, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Love this Maisie!
    It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to make enough noise to get noticed. To start thinking that nothing is worth launching unless there’s a 4-week multi-platform sparkles and pizzazz launch party taking place.

    I’m happy to be a pebbler 🙂


    • August 24, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      Yay… another pebble flicker! I love it. I’ll take campfire conversations and an arm around a shoulder over glitter and pomp any day!


  • March 4, 2016 at 11:16 am
    What do you stand for? - Audacious Muse

    […] Everyone wants to be king of the jungle gym these days. If “being big” is your thing… well… cool. Fight over that tiny square of space at the top however you wish. But don’t discount the power of being small. […]


  • April 17, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I strive to be a Pebble Flicker and didn’t even know it! Your ability to form words into such nice thoughts warms my heart. Thanks for sharing!


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