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What One Little Man Can Do

Gravestone of Buckminster Fuller with the quote "call me trimtab"The beauty of the Internet is that I can be searching for something, and stumble onto something else even more precious, like this, from Wikipedia:

The engineer Buckminster Fuller is often cited for his use of trim tabs as a metaphor for leadership and personal empowerment. In the February 1972 issue of Playboy, Fuller said:

“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

So I said, call me Trim Tab.”


The followup that comes to me, rereading this post, is that you don’t need to convince everyone in order to provoke a major change. You only need to get some key influencers to adopt your idea, and everyone else will follow.

For more information

Wikipedia source for this post: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trim_tab#Trim_tab_as_a_metaphor

Wikipedia article on Buckminster Fuller: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckminster_Fuller

Amazon link for the February 1972 issue of Playboy: http://www.amazon.com/Playboy-Magazine-February-1972-Buckminster/dp/B000FSJTFY

Buckminster Fuller Institute: http://www.bfi.org/

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