An excerpt from the book "The Abundance Arena".
Secret Similarity #3 – The Little Things Matter
“Watch the little things; a small leak can sink a great ship!” ⎮Benjamin Franklin
So many of us go through life searching for that “one thing”, that one secret that will finally change our lives forever. This constant search for the proverbial “key to success” keeps many of us reading books, going to seminars, and joining social media motivational groups. It’s great that we are always seeking further knowledge to improve ourselves. In fact, I’ve taught in previous books that the widely successful are also life-long learners, and so it should be. However, we get so caught up in our search for that one thing that we miss a very crucial lesson. It’s a secret we experience every day; another tool to mastering the Art of Abundance that has been right in front of us the whole time. It’s so simple that most don’t even realize just how powerful it can be and dismiss it as having no significant bearing on our success and happiness. It’s Secret Similarity #3: The Little Things Matter.
Best-selling author and speaker Jeff Olson calls this secret The Slight Edge and consequently wrote a book bearing that very same title. I would highly recommend you read this book as I did many years ago. Jeff Olson teaches that the Slight Edge all comes down to daily disciplines. The little things we do each day, while they may seem insignificant at the time, do have a positive or negative effect on our life’s trajectory when compounded over time. He calls this the compound effect, and its lesson has been around for centuries.
The best example I can give you relates to your diet. Let’s say you are meeting a friend for a quick lunch, and you have a choice: chicken nuggets and french fries, or a salad? Don’t get me wrong, I love french fries just as much as the next person, but just hear me out. If you choose to have the french fries, eating them won’t immediately destroy your health at that point in time. Nor would eating a single salad suddenly make you extremely healthy. However, over time, the compounding effect of eating a poor diet will indeed have a drastic and negative effect on your health. People who contract diabetes didn’t get to that point because they occasionally had an ice cream cone or a Snickers bar. Most alco- holics didn’t become addicted because they only drank socially on holidays. The simple, little things you do each and every day, really do matter. Now, here’s the kicker. This secret similarity, ‘the little things matter’, applies not only to your health but to all areas of your life.
I remember a commencement speech at the University of Texas in 2014 by Admiral William H. McRaven, a US Navy Seal and Commander of the United States Special Operations Command. It’s a fantastic speech and I believe you can still view it today on YouTube. One of the lessons he speaks about to the graduating class of 2014 is one he learned in Basic SEAL training. Each morning, when you get up, you should make your bed. While this seems mundane or unrelated to living an abundant life, he goes on to explain, “Making your bed means you will have accomplished your first task of the day, and this will give you a sense of accom- plishment and pride. This will lead to accomplishing another task, then another, then another. And, if you should have a bad day, at least you will come home to a made bed, one that you have made. This will give you the confidence and the reassurance that tomorrow will be better.”
You see, performing a simple task (a little thing) sets the bar for the day and can put you on a path toward other daily successes. This is because the little things compound over time and become very big things before you know it. While all this sounds easy to do, most never follow through with “doing the little things”. Why? Jeff Olson, once again said it best when he said, “Because the little things are also just as easy NOT to do”. It’s easy not to go to the gym for a day because you were up a tad late last night. It’s easy not to bring your spouse flowers, just because. It’s easy not to take your daily vitamins. It’s easy not to read your daily affirmations or meditate. It’s easier to get caught up in negative gossip at work with colleagues than it is to excuse yourself and walk away.
The compounding effect of the little things can be both negative and positive. Investing just 3% into a 401k doesn’t sound like much, but we all know that compounded over time it can add up to a significant retirement. The salesperson that commits to “one more phone call” before they leave for the day, or the writer who says, “Just 500 more words then I’ll stop”. The executive who makes it a point to each day visit her subordinates and with a smile asks “How are things going today? Is there anything I can do to help?” Let me assure you, those who have mastered the Art of Abundance, and live very successful and meaningful lives have daily disciplines or simple routines they follow religiously. From corporate executives, and entrepreneurs, to professional athletes, the top 5% all understand this seemingly simple, compound-driven principle.
So, create and follow your daily disciplines. Read your daily affirmations, make that extra phone call, invest in a 401k, make your bed each morning, choose the salad, and always, always remember... the little things matter.