Sunday, December 16, 2012

Little Things Can Make A Big Difference

While there's a natural tendency to want to 'think big' , 'do big' and 'be big' in life, relationships and business, much of the results we get are in doing the little things in a consistent way. Doing the little things makes a big difference, much bigger than we are willing to admit.
Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I'll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things.
Listen to the news and see how people are changing their world by doing seemingly little things. I read the profiles of most of the CNN Heroes of 2012, and one thing struck me - they were ordinary people, doing little things in their own ways, to change their worlds.

I witnessed a fatality some weeks back, on a highway in Cairo. The car involved was almost brand new and all the safety gadgets needed to protect anyone must have been in place. However, the driver was not wearing his seat belt! As 'little' or trivial as that might sound, it was what made the difference between life and death.

Did you hear about the bridge that collapsed in Japan recently? 9 people were killed and several injured. Initial reports shows that a missing bolt (yes, something as small as a missing bolt) was responsible for the collapse. Can you imagine that? Those little things sure can make a very big difference.

I know and work with a lot of very successful leaders and aspiring leaders who set very ambitious improvement goals for themselves. They want to be more strategic, lead change, be more visionary, improve their presentation skills, learn marketing and finance, and improve their work-life balance. Yes, these are all important and impressive goals. They can be huge mountains to climb, and could even take years to achieve or master. However, approaching these goals little by little but consistently, would ultimately get them there. This reminds me of a parent that screamed at her teenager: "if you want to clean up the environment, why don't you start by cleaning your damn room".
If you add a little to a little and do this often, soon the little will become great.
I came across this story a couple of years ago that further explains how little things, like acts of kindness and courtesy, can go a long way in making a huge difference.

Many years ago, an elderly man and his wife entered the lobby of a small Philadelphia hotel. "All the big places are filled," the man said. "Can you give us a room?" The clerk replied that with three conventions in town, no accommodations were available anywhere. "Every guest room is taken," he said, but then added, "but I can't send a nice couple like you into the rain at one o'clock in the morning. Would you be willing to sleep in my room?" The next morning as he paid his bill, the elderly man said to the clerk, "You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I'll build one for you." The clerk laughed and forgot about the incident. About 2 years later, however, he received a letter containing a round trip ticket to New York and a request that he be the guest of the elderly couple he had befriended.

Once in New York, the old man led the clerk to the corner of Fifth Avenue and Thirty-Fourth Street, where he pointed to an incredible new building and declared "That is the hotel I just built for you to manage." The young man, George C. Boldt, accepted the offer of William Waldorf Astor to become the manager of the original Waldorf- Astoria, considered the finest hotel in the world in its time!
I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
May I encourage you not to neglect the little things, because you are focusing on the big things? May I encourage you to pay attention to the "little" things, even as you dream big? May I encourage you not to get carried away with the notion that if what we do is not big enough, it could make no difference? It is time for a paradigm shift - do not take for granted the 'little', do not overlook ' the little', and when all you get sometimes is 'little', do appreciate it. In actual sense, the 'Little' things do make a BIG difference.