Sweat the small stuff…

I guess it all boils down to your perception, but there are times in our lives… even in our day, that ‘not sweating the small stuff’ can cost you big. Sure, there are those that enjoy nit-picking and detailing you to death (I hope I’m not one of those!) but there are times the small stuff can make a big difference. We know what they are, even if we don’t like to admit it. Common courtesy, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, clean language, open or closing a door, a helping hand, confirming you took the order correctly, a well-meaning smile, the list goes on… When you list them all, all this small stuff matters. In my profession, courtesy is hard currency. Don’t try to fake it either! Just because it’s small doesn’t mean you don’t have to be genuine. When you think about it, if you cannot be genuine with the small stuff how are you going to cope with the big stuff!

Small stuff takes effort because there’s usually more of it, either in volume or variety. The risk of multitasking is high, because small stuff can feel easy to do together. If they are complimentary or synergistic, go for it. Walking a message to deliver in person can be much more rewarding than Skype. On the flip side, if small stuff conflict or contradict each other, the problems caused are bigger than any benefit. The common courtesy of paying singular attention in a meeting or (even worse) a conference call is all but lost these days. Some small stuff needs to be sweat over to avoid them becoming big. Try mistyping your SSN on a tax form or transposing a date from UK to US format in the wrong place! Other small stuff needs effort to make them big. Small wins build trust, and trust is a big thing.

I think the key is we need to be smart about what is big stuff and what is small stuff. Who determines it and how. If it’s you, then understand how you get to that determination. If it is someone else, you better be clear on what they mean by big and small. These actions are rarely based on one to exclusion of the other, so we are always adjusting. I guess it’s this constant balancing that makes ‘stuff’ sweaty in the first place!

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