Who are the “Little People”? Who are the people that live and respond to life with a simple awareness that they are part of an interactive system? Little people recognize their role in the world and try to take care of that ecosystem. They share in the work to keep it healthy. It’s just their nature to solve problems through thoughtful cooperation. If you are one of the “Little People”, you know who you are. Does anyone else? Does it matter if anyone else knows? What’s the saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, I have another saying that seems to apply to the “Little People”. “You are how you act when you are being you.”
The more important question in my mind is, do we understand why we are one of the little people? A couple of years after I left my job as Director of Aviation, one of the secretaries in my new department asked me,” Don’t you get nervous whenever a big wheel is around?” I laughed and responded, “They don’t scare me. I used to be one of them and it’s no big deal.”
Recently I was in a meeting with seven other people. Together, we were experiencing a process-oriented team building exercise called u.Lab. (This is made available through the services of M.I.T. and has practitioners around the world.) Each of us in that room was mindful of the prerequisite that the group co-exists, each centered on elements of honesty, trust and respect. A forty year span of age among us could, under different circumstances, have raised a completely different set of group dynamics. Some in the circle had suffered professional setbacks, some were at a professional peak, some hoped for breakthrough success. Yet each of us was, in my opinion, one of the “Little People.” How do I know? Because, “You are how you act when you are being you.” Little people, in my mind, are honest about their place on this Earth and sincere in their search for ways to make a difference. Little people display a level of integrity that makes those nearby feel safe. They look at the world, not as a platter from which to take, but as a pool that best provides when it is, itself, protected.
To a child growing up, the world can seem like a wide wonderland of opportunity. Sadly, sooner or later we all find that is usually not the case. But, we dream, some with small goals, some with great expectations. As adults, we learn too soon about the yins and yangs of the world and its capacity to frustrate our dreams. That is the time when we sometimes realize that our goal of long ago is no longer important.
Little people are survivors. They always have been and always will be. The top – the emperor – the big-wig – the rich and the famous will come and go. That is the way of the world. But, the “Little People” just keep on truckin’ and the world is a better place because of them.