The Importance of Small Things
Rudi Giuliani was the 107th Mayor of New York City from 1993 to 2001.
When he took office, he appointed a new police commissioner, William Bratton, who applied the broken windows theory of urban decay, which holds that minor disorders and violations create a permissive atmosphere which leads to further and more serious crimes that can threaten the safety of a city; to prevent major crime, the theory holds, the police should enforce seemingly minor "quality-of-life" laws such as those outlawing public drinking, littering, and jay-walking. Within several years, Giuliani was widely credited for making major improvements in the city's quality of life and lowering the rate of violent crimes because of this effective enforcement of seemingly small and insignificant laws.
Emily Dickinson the American poet said “If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves. You can gain more control over your life by focusing on the little things.” Rudi Giuliani and Emily Dickinson both understood the importance and power of doing the little things correctly and how by applying them, compounds their effects into big results.
The picture in the header this week was from my #walkitoff talk I did in July this year. It’s one of my favourite visual aids when I explain to people how small changes applied consistently to your life can reap massive rewards over time. We don’t lose weight be eating one healthy meal. We don’t get strong by training once in a gym. We don’t drop our stress levels with one cold shower or one meditation session. We have to consistently focus on doing a few small things correctly and then over time these small changes create big change for us and those around us.
I’m not a financial guru (if I was I might be typing this from a yacht or tropical island) but when Albert Einstein says “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. This who know this, earn it. Those who don’t, pay it”, I realize that possibly the greatest mind in modern science is really expressing the fact that the interest you earn on doing the small things correctly pays off in a big way.
So at this time of year, often stress and life has caught up with you. Most people can’t wait for the Christmas holidays and some much needed downtime. If you feel overwhelmed, focus on the small things. If you feel out of control, focus on the small things. Often the small things are within your control and by applying your effort to them, you’ll probably inadvertently take care of the big things.