Little Things

If I listen closely, I can hear an orchestra of a million small raindrops falling on the leaves of the deep green forest behind me. A small drizzle makes a huge impact when multiplied.

These forests are rejuvenated with tens of thousands of massive trees, reaching into the sky, too high for me to reach and certainly to climb, yet our ancestors here had cleared these forests just a hundred years before.

Small seeds falling in big winds replanted over a million bare acres of beauty, now preserved forever wild in this Adirondack park.

Little Can Be Big

Whether seedlings, small winds, or tiny droplets, small things can make a big difference. A giant ship in a hurricane-force wind among huge waves can change course to a new direction with a captain’s slight touch on a small wheel controlling the rudder. A small board can lift a large load with a fulcrum in the right place. A large load is lifted by a small pulley system. Huge forest fires are started by small sparks.

Where in your life have small things made a big impact?

For me, small words motivated massive action, resulting in a lifetime career.

When I asked my 14-year-old self what I wanted to do with my life, my answer was radio. But my aunt told me radio people are bad: “You don’t want to be a part of that industry. Radio people are evil.” But I wanted to be on the radio, and, knowing I’m not bad and I’m not going to be evil, her words made me mad and determined to prove her wrong. The result was a long, fruitful (and still ongoing) career in and around radio. And when I saw bad practices in radio, I set out to change them. For instance, women were treated horribly, sexually harassed by clients and management, so I used my magazine to raise awareness, do articles, create awards and lists, and over 30-plus years have had

Positive or Negative?

Words are small, seemingly innocent things, yet one frequently repeated statement from my dad — “You can do anything you set your mind to” — built my internal confidence. Though no one else, it seemed, believed in me, my parents’ constant encouragement launched me.

What small words of yours are having a big impact?

You and I have choices. Our words can be encouraging or discouraging.

I had no idea.

A few years ago I received a call from a man I barely remembered. He said, “One night over dinner you told me, ‘You are really smart, and you’ll own your own radio stations one day.’ I did not believe it at the time, but those words echoed in my head. No one else ever believed in me. You did, and that small spark encouraged me. I ended up owning one, then two, and now several radio stations.”

“The tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, filled with deadly poison.”

— James 3:8

“So the tongue is also little, it can boast great things.”

— James 3:5

What if we all watched our tongue? What if we held back the temptation to lash out and spew negativity, and instead projected encouragement and belief in others?

We would change the world.

Your small, seemingly innocent words can have an impact. Words can ring in our thoughts for decades. They can set us on fire or burn us at the stake.

How will you use your words today?

Eric Rhoads


This week I’m hosting just under 90 people at my Fall Color Week artist retreat. We’re having a blast and wish you were here. (Next retreat is my Publisher’s Invitational in June.)

I’m really excited about our next virtual art conference, Realism Live, which I’m hosting in November with the world’s finest artists as instructors, teaching figures, portraits, still life, landscape painting, and more. There’s even a Beginner’s Day. Check it out before registration bonuses disappear.