Last week my wife ran into a convenience store, while I waited in the car. After a few minutes she came back out but was empty handed. She came to my window to let me know she had forgotten her wallet and needed $2. I pulled the bills from my wallet, and she ran back into the store.
A minute later she came back out the door but stopped to wave to the guy who had just left the store before her. She had her coffee in hand and got back into the car. I asked her who she was waving to (he didn’t look familiar). She said, “I don’t know, but he just paid for my coffee”. This stranger had paid her tab when she came to get the money from me. It really was a very small gesture (less than $2), but it means so much. It’s the little things that can make a BIG difference.
As leaders this is very important to remember – always. Many of us can easily take for granted the small, seemingly insignificant things day in and day out. Take the time to appreciate the customary tasks others perform to help keep the “machine” running smoothly. Maybe it’s the person gets that first pot of coffee brewing in the morning. Or maybe someone who routinely replenishes the paper supply in the copy machine/printer. Or the person who sends the friendly reminder that it’s office supply order day and just wants to make sure we don’t need anything special. When is the last time you took the time, stopped, and actually told them “Thank you for what you do”?
I think — It’s the little things that matter. If anything matters, then everything matters. If anyone matters, then everyone matters. I think of the old story of when hospital cleaning staff are asked what they do. One answer is “I have to clean the toilets”. The other answer is “I help save lives”. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about how we see what we do and what others do. If I place value on the little things, I’ll most certainly appreciate them and the person doing them. It’s all about “the WHY”.
So as a leader what do you do to show that appreciation? What can you start doing today? Will you take the time to genuinely appreciate the “quiet folks” who perform these “little things”, but are not looking for accolades for what they have done? Don’t limit your “newfound sense” of appreciation to the workplace. Take it home with you. Take it to the supermarket. Show it off at the baseball game.
Maybe you can use it on the server who brings your lunch. Start with “paying it forward” and just wait and see what happens. See the little things don’t just matter at work, they matter everywhere in life!