It’s the little things that make a big difference.
Ben Franklin put it this way: “It’s a small leak that can sink a great ship.”
“Inches make champions,” said Vince Lombardi.
Legendary UCLA basketball coach is famous for his attention to the little things. He began the first practice every year with a Very Little Thing: how to tie your shoes. (For the complete story, read this.)
Effective leaders do the little things that add up to big results. Here’s five little things you can be doing every day:
- Make contact with every member of your staff. In person, if you can. By phone, if you can’t. Email at a minimum if they’re somewhere out on the road and can’t be reached. It doesn’t always have to be about business. Just start the conversation with, “Just checking in. How’s things?”
- Keep a running list of the stuff that’s small stuff you tend to put off because, well, it’s small stuff. Two or three times a day, pull up the list and do one or two of the tasks. Cross them off the list (it feels good!) and move on.
- Look for an opportunity to catch someone doing something right. Maybe it’s someone on your staff, but it could easily be a client, a colleague, or just a friend. Acknowledge what they’ve done and show some appreciation. I read somewhere that the typical person gets 16 pieces of negative feedback for every positive. Change that ratio.
- Read something that inspires you, challenges you, or deepens your understanding of your world. It’s been calculated that a person who spends 15 minutes a day could read 2,400 pages in a year year. Don’t want to carry around books? Get an ereader or upload an app to your smart phone. You can read 15 minutes a day just standing in lines!
- Clean up a mess. There’s always a mess that needs attention. Your desk, your computer, your project, whatever! One of the most important – your relationships with others. Messed something up with someone? Do something about it today.
Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves, or so it’s been said. Consider what Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel thought about little things:
What we call little things are merely the causes of great things; they are the beginning, the embryo, and it is the point of departure which, generally speaking, decides the whole future of an existence. One single black speck may be the beginning of a gangrene, of a storm, of a revolution.