Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Little Things

Get out a piece of paper and write down the last time you just did something small to help somebody out.

If your page is blank, this is for you. Hell, even if your page has something on it this is for you. While you’re settling down to read this grab some wine and crackers because it is going to be damn cheesy. And it’s already started J.

I’ve had a sudden life revelation during this trip. Perhaps it was during my search or who I want to be in this world, or what I want to do. But the revelation is not all that original, though perhaps something we all need to be reminded of.

The little tings count. That’s it. Working feverishly on my placement to achieve the greater goal I realized something. If I fail, what is left? What has been left, if the ‘Big Change’ you were shooting for doesn’t get done?

And after asking myself this I realized two truths. Big ideas come and go. You work hard and maybe the culmination of all your efforts yields some great change that can positively influence many. That’s the whole reason we get out of bed in the morning isn’t it? For whatever the ‘Big Change’ is for you. For whatever ‘the catch’ is. And if you achieve that change it’s marvelous. But soon after, you move onto the next catch.

For me that catch is what I’m working on in my job right now. Big potential for great change, but long return on investment. But what if I don’t get it? What if I miss . . . and believe me, over here it’s easy to miss. What am I left with doing?

The second truth is that nothing takes away the little things. The little things make up life, and they last forever. If I train somebody at my work in computers so that they are that much more efficient and capable as an individual; well that’s a life long incremental change. That person might not be related in anyway to my ‘Big Change’, but it’s a small step in the right direction for them. All of the little things are what really count because those are the changes that stick with people.

The sad thing is somehow we’ve misaligned the value. So often we’re focused on the ‘Big Change’, the big catch. So often we measure people and reward them based on those big catches, but rarely do we recognize the value in all the little steps. In our endless pursuit for the big catch, we most often miss the little things. So focused on the means to the end, we don’t take time to do those little things.

To speak frankly, it’s the little things that make us human beings, and compassionate to other human beings. Those little things are what will change the world.

For me this meant stepping back. From bringing work home in pursuit of the big change, to investing in the people in my immediate surroundings. Whether it be computer training with co-workers, to tutoring math and English to my host siblings at night; both need to be done daily.

And for you the small things are whatever you make them to be.

A good friend of mine (John Gattey), once quoted (4 months ago), a much smarter man (Albert Einstein). This is what he said, and I think John for sharing his (Albert Einstein’s) wisdom with me.

“I wish to do something great and wonderful, but I must start by doing the little things like they were great and wonderful”

On your road to wherever you’re going, in your pursuit of that big catch; don’t forget to lift those around you. If you look closely enough, most probably in the recent past, someone has lifted you.