The Brain Power of Small Wins

This is the story of how Watson & Crick, who discovered DNA, used small wins to eventually discover the model that works. 

James Watson’s success at discovering DNA, as told in Harvard Business Review, describes the roller coaster of emotions he and his partner, Francis Crick, experienced as they worked in the lab toward their discovery. They had ups and downs, as you can imagine. They were about to give up when After the excitement of their first attempt they noticed some serious flaws in their DNA model. They were dismayed. However, later that evening, “ concepts within their model began to emerge that re-inspired them with renewed vigor. Excitedly, they showed their “breakthrough” to colleagues and realized that their model would not work.

Success Will Ebb and Flow, You Need Small Wins to Ride It Out

The ebbing and flowing of motivation and doubt persisted for days. Finally, they had a true breakthrough and not one colleague found no fault with it. Watson wrote, in his 1968 Memoir of how they later won the Nobel Prize for their discovery, that “My morale skyrocketed, for I suspected that we now had the answer to the riddle.” After that small win, Watson and Crick were driven by this seemingly small success that they spent long hours in their lab working to complete the model of DNA that still stands today. Small wins count and celebrating them is important to propel you forward. For More Information Keep Reading Below the Video. 

What a Small Win Celebration Does to Your Brain

A small win can take your brain from using from Theta, slow speed, that creates overwhelm, and move into Low Beta speed for focus. At the same time, a small win can reduce the anxiety of too much High Beta use and bring it down into Low Beta for calm focus. and/or High Beta and puts it into Low Beta for renewed focus. All from just one small win. 

Every small win gives your brain a spritz of dopamine, the feel-good neurochemical in your brain. Better yet, when we string together a continual series of small wins, you can increase the regular amount of dopamine being released into your brain for more constant joy and pleasure in your work, family, and hobbies. This is the Flow state, as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the greatest researchers on the subject. Flow happens when you design your experiences to give you pleasure, no matter what they involve. The menial task of cooking breakfast can create Flow. 

How Celebrating the Small Wins Improves Your Brain & Your Life

  1. You Gain Clarity

Yes, with celebrating small wins — you get clarity for your big goals. We can go astray when we are so focused on our big goals that we don’t celebrate all the smaller steps on the way to achieving that goal. By setting daily goals, we can see how the ultimate goal could be broken down into small steps. By celebrating daily, you can keep your brain calm, focused, and ready to go to work the next day. When you start giving importance to small victories, you eventually start realizing that you are getting closer to your goal with each step. It then helps you to stay more focused on reaching your destination.

  1. Remember Your Purpose with Renewed Passion

Simon Sinek has long told us to “stary with our Why”. That is great advice. When you realize the “why’ of your goals and your work, the small wins become even more exciting. This is because you know you are on purpose. By celebrating small wins, we recall for ourselves the reason behind those big goals and intentions in the first place. Without rewarding yourself for the efforts you have made to be at your destination, you may feel like you’ve lost insight into your goal and even some of the passion.

  1. Gain Confidence & Motivation

Confidence and motivation start high on any journey. For most, they begin to fade over time. Of course, with obstacles and problems along your way, you may even feel disappointed, discouraged, and broken as you keep moving forward. But when you learn to gain small wins, it becomes easier for you to persevere with the same brain power and confidence for more small steps along the way. You can flip all the pages of efforts that you have made throughout the journey so far; it allows you to look back at how much you have achieved, how far you have come now, and how closer to your goal.

  1. Strengthen Your Positive Psychology

When you celebrate, endorphins, feel-good chemicals in the brain, release inside the body, and you feel incredible. That is why success can feel so good. When you celebrate, you reward the brain for achieving, making it feel even better. Essentially it is a brain two-fer. It makes the achievement doubly powerful and makes your brain want to come back for more. This will also reinforce this brain pattern to show up when you face new opportunities or challenges in your life. So when you achieve or accomplish something in your life, celebrate. 


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