You’ve heard, and probably said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” While there is some truth in that statement, the sentiment can be very harmful if we don’t consider small things in the right context. Let me start by telling you a story…
According to James Kerr in his book Legacy, about the leadership lessons from the New Zealand All-Blacks Rugby team, the highly successful team has the habit of cleaning the dressing room after every match, win or lose. Every player, including the stars, are expected to pick up, sweep up, and generally leave the dressing room as good or better than they found it.
Perhaps this is a little thing, but it says much about the character and culture of the team, doesn’t it? It shows a sense of humility and service for others, it shows discipline, and it highlights the power of the small things. If you knew just this one thing about this team, and you had to bet, would you bet they were successful or average?
Here are three reasons why small things can make such a big difference.
Habits Start Small
You can look at anyone’s habits and have a pretty good idea of how successful and productive they will be. Changing a habit for the better can change the trajectory of your life and work. And habit change isn’t about a big thing or a big splash; it is about a decision and daily action – small things in and of themselves that make it happen. Lasting change always starts with the small things. (Tweet that.)
Doing the Small Things Requires (and Develops) Discipline
Think about the Rugby team – choosing to clean up the dressing room after a big win shows a discipline to do everything with excellence. The choice to look after the small things (a habit in itself) creates a discipline that seeps into every other aspect of life. If you made a list of all the traits you would want in a new employee (or your children), wouldn’t discipline be on the list because of how many other things it impacts?
Little Hinges Swing Big Doors
Habits and discipline are both behaviors that have a massive impact on our lives. They are seemingly small things, yet they have an out-sized impact on everything else. These are the little hinges that swing big doors. When we identify the small things that will make the impact we desire, we see the world with a perspective that helps us focus, choose, and select the activities to support our success.
If all of this is true, does that suggest we must “sweat the small stuff?”
Rather, it suggests that we must sweat the right small stuff, and realize it isn’t so little after all. The benefits above point to an additional and important step – choosing the right small stuff – deciding which small stuff will swing the big doors you want to open.
Excellence in all areas of your life can flow from determining the right small stuff and then focusing on those small things
Having enough sleep
A small change to your routine
Five minutes of deep breathing
Fresh, organic food (if you can get it)
A deep stretch – yoga
A smile from a stranger
An opportunity to be creative
Hearing your favorite song
A 5-minute massage
A morning lie-in (if you can get one)