Unseen Passage: Small Isn’t Insignificant

Many of us believe that ‘small’ means ‘insignificant’. We believe that small actions and choices do not have much impact on our lives. We think that it is only the big things, the big actions and the big decisions that really count. But when you look at the lives of all great people, you will see that they built their character through small decisions, small choices and small actions that they performed every day. They transformed their lives through step-by-step or day-by-day approach. They nurtured and nourished their good habits and chipped away their bad habits, one by one. It was their small day-to-day decisions that added up to make tremendous difference in the long run. Indeed, in matters of personal growth and character building, there is no such thing as an overnight success.

Growth always occurs through a sequential series of stages. There is an organic process to growth. When we look at children growing up, we can see this process at work: the child first learns to crawl, then to stand and walk and then finally to run. The same is true in the natural world. The soil must first be tilled and then the seed must be sown. Next, it must be nurtured with enough water and sunlight and only then will it grow into trees laden with ripe fruits.

Gandhi understood this organic process and used this universal law of nature to his benefit. Gandhi grew in small ways, in his day-to-day affairs. He did not wake up one day and find himself to be the ‘Mahatma’. In fact, there was nothing much in his early life that showed signs of greatness. But from his mid-twenties onwards, he deliberately and consistently attempted to change himself, reform himself and grow in some small way every day. Day by day, hour by hour, he risked failure, experimented and learnt from mistakes. In small as well as large situations, he took up the responsibility rather than avoiding it.

People have always marvelled at the effortless way in which Gandhi could accomplish the most difficult tasks. He displayed a great deal of self-mastery and discipline which was amazing. These things did not come easily to him. Years of practice and disciplined training went into making his success possible. Very few saw his struggles, fears, doubts and anxieties, or his inner efforts to overcome them. They only saw the victory, but not the struggle.

This is a common factor in the lives of all great people: they exercise their freedoms and choices in small ways that make great impact on their lives and their environment. Each of their small decisions and actions, add up to have a profound impact in the long run. By understanding this principle, we can move forward, with confidence, in the direction of our dreams. Often when our ‘ideal goal’ looks too far from us, we become easily discouraged, disheartened and pessimistic. However, when we choose to grow in small ways, by taking small steps one at a time, our achievement becomes easy.

Q. Based on your understanding of the above passage, answer any five of the questions given below by choosing the most appropriate option:

  1. The main idea in the first paragraph is that:
    1. big things, big actions and big decisions make a person great.
    2. small actions and decisions are important in one’s life.
    3. overnight success is possible for all of us.
    4. personal changes are not important.
  2. What does the writer mean by saying ‘chipped away at their bad habits’?
    1. Steadily gave up bad habits.
    2. Slowly produced bad habits.
    3. Gradually criticized bad habits.
    4. Did not like bad habits.
  3. Which of the following statements is true in the context of the third paragraph? (
    1. Gandhi became great overnight.
    2. Gandhi showed signs of greatness in childhood itself.
    3. Every day Gandhi made efforts to change himself in some small way.
    4. Gandhi never made mistakes.
  4. What is done by great people to transform their lives?
    1. They approach life on a day-to-day basis.
    2. They build character in small ways.
    3. They believe in performing every day.
    4. All of these.
  5. How can we grow in small ways?
    1. By getting disheartened.
    2. By dreaming little.
    3. By taking small steps one at a time.
    4. None of these.
  6. How did Gandhiji become ‘Mahatma’?
    1. By risking failure.
    2. By learning from mistakes.
    3. By taking up responsibilities.
    4. All of the above.

Answers

  1. Small actions and decisions are important in one’s life.
  2. Steadily gave up bad habits.
  3. Every day Gandhi made efforts to change himself in some small way.
  4. They build character in small ways.
  5. By taking small steps one at a time.
  6. All of the above.

Q. Answer the questions briefly:

  1. How do small actions and choices impact our lives?
  2. Describe organic process of growth through an example from the text.
  3. What according to the author is the ‘universal law of nature’?
  4. How did Gandhi accomplish the most difficult tasks effortlessly?
  5. Which things about Gandhi’s life were not seen by most of the people?
  6. Pick out words from the passage which are similar in meaning to the following:
    1. intentionally/ purposely (Para 3)
    2. of deep significance; far-reaching (Para 5)

Answers

  1. We believe that small actions and choices do not have much impact on our lives. But they help in building our character, nourishing good habits and chipping away our bad habits.
  2. There is an organic process to growth. The soil must first be tilled and then the seed must be sown. Next, it must be nurtured with enough water and sunlight and only then will it grow into trees laden with ripe fruits.
  3. According to the author, the ‘universal law of nature’ means that everything takes time to grow. Nothing can change or transform in a day.
  4. With years of practice and disciplined training, Gandhiji could accomplish the difficult tasks effortlessly.
  5. Most of the people did not see Gandhiji’s struggles, fears, doubts and anxieties, or his inner efforts to overcome them. They only saw his victory, but not the struggle.
  6. Words are:
    1. deliberately
    2. profound

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