Why every single thing you do matters
Yesterday, I took my latest batch of freshly dried herbs out of the dehydrator and began to prepare them for their respective containers. This batch consisted mostly of oregano. If you’ve seen oregano, you know it has small leaves and lots of stem. It’s important to separate the leaves from the bigger stems before crumbling them into an airtight jar. It’s such a pain to sheer the leaves off of each of these stems. I thought to myself, “It doesn’t matter. Why don’t I just crumble it all — these large stems too and save time?”
But it does matter. Even though this activity has nothing to do with my business as a writer, it matters.
The care you put into even the smallest, most mundane tasks matters — maybe even more than the big things — especially in business.
Success in Business Requires Working in the Moment
Living in the moment and taking deliberate action in all that we do requires practice. It’s especially difficult when growing a business. During a growth phase, you have countless meetings and tasks to tend to and even more distractions that threaten to pull you away.
Learning how to conduct business with purpose and vision will help you sift out the noise and focus on each thing as it arises. This allows you to attend each meeting, take care of each task, and handle each challenge with the focus these deserve.
One of my greatest inspirations is Lisbeth Darsh. Not only does Lisbeth possibly love Crossfit as much as I do, she’s authored five books and works tirelessly to help others live their best lives. The other day, she posted a screenshot from a book by Ryan Holiday that made me sit up a little straighter and listen a little harder to that small voice inside me.
One of the lines really stood out to me:
“Focus on the moment, not the monsters that may or may not be up ahead.”
That’s so easy to give as advice, but so difficult to pull off ourselves. We tend to think worrying about potential adverse events in the future equals preparation. Many of us think of worry as a necessary evil. We may even believe that to not worry about any obstacles that may lie ahead as irresponsible.
If you’re one of those people, you’ve mixed up the useless practice of ‘worry’ with the responsible and worthwhile practice of ‘concern’. Successful business people have a healthy concern about the future and have well developed plans in place to handle potential challenges. But the best of these have the mental and intellectual flexibility to effectively handle any unplanned, out-of-the-blue obstacles that may pop up.
You can cultivate this interior flexibility by working in the moment — taking on each activity in the workday as the single most important item on your agenda.
The page from Holiday’s book that Lisbeth shared also talked about Andrew Carnegie and how he said when we start out in our first jobs we get “introduced to the broom”. Holiday goes on to point out that “There’s nothing shameful about sweeping It’s just another opportunity to excel — and to learn.”
Now, obviously, your first ‘real’ job may not have had anything to do with sweeping. Maybe you filed papers, answered a phone, stocked inventory in a back room — whatever you did, let’s hope you did it to the best of your ability.
But if you’re like most people, you thought of that first job as just a stepping stone to something greater, something that actually uses all that stuff you learned in school. Essentially, most people think these in-between jobs just don’t matter.
Seriously, how can working at the deli counter bring you closer to your ultimate career goal, a goal that, when achieved, will put you where you need to be to actually make a difference?
Holiday answers that question quite well saying, “Only self-absorbed assholes think they are too good for whatever their current station requires.”
You see, every single thing we do matters. When you take shortcuts, make compromises on quality, treat customers badly because you’re miserable, you build your reputation on that foundation of mediocrity. Not only will others see this as part of your personal brand, you will know it defines you as well.
By making every sandwich, sweeping every floor, serving every disgruntled customer in the moment to the best of your ability and with pride to do it better than anyone thought possible, you cultivate a brand of integrity and excellence.
Get out there and give your best from sunrise to sundown.
Every Day Is the Best Day.