Want to Change the World? Be a Trim Tab

If you want to change the world, turn the ship of state, it’s helpful to think about real ships.

Big ones.

Picture your favorite ginormous ship—the Queen Mary, the USS Enterprise or your favorite behemoth cargo ship—charging at full speed across the ocean.

If you want to turn the ship, physics is against you. Mass and momentum will counter any but the mightiest forces applied from the front or sides, even from the rudder itself.

Most people don’t know that even rudders on big ships need help—there’s just too much resistance working against them.

But if you target your efforts carefully…

On the tail edge of the rudder is an even smaller rudder—a trim tab—which creates a negative pressure that pulls the rudder around easily, which in turn turns the ship.

Trim tabs were patented in 1968. In 1972, Buckminster Fuller (but of course!) applied this concept to social change.

He saw how the physics of steering large ships could be applied to politics and social movements. The concept so enamored him that the newsletter for the Buckminster Fuller Institute is called Trim Tab.

It’s even on his epitaph.

The point? Small efforts can create big changes, if they're focused on the right spot. You can create big change by thinking small.

It reminds me of the saying...

For a few examples of little changes leading to big changes, check out this article from USA Today.

Each of us can be a trim tab. Think carefully about how and where to apply your energy, you can make big things happen.

So how will you change the world?