My pal Ben Franklin once said, “A little neglect may breed mischief: for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost.” I love this quote because I’m somewhat little myself and I have been known to breed some mischief every now and again! But seriously, it reminds me how the little things are so very important to the sum of the whole; how one tiny nail could change the face (and voice) of America.
Using the example above, apply it to the story of Paul Revere; had the blacksmith thought his job of making nails had no significance, we may very well be speaking British today, well you know what I mean!
Ben Franklin was brilliant bearing the insight of 1,000 men. His cause and effect quip above was his poetic way of saying, “YOU MATTER!” So many times in an organization you’ll hear a support staffer say, “I’m only a receptionist,” or “I just do filing.” Everyone in your organization matters, but why do people forget that fact? What are we forgetting as a society that causes people to think less of themselves or their role in the bigger picture?
Yep, it’s the little things! Little things like appreciation and acknowldgment (which in fact are HUGE things, but little on the scale of difficulty). So much of American business has become a dog-eat-dog, corporate-ladder mentality that a lot of bosses forget to appreciate and acknowledge their staff for doing their job. It’s the “please and thank you” rule. You might say, “…but they get paid to do those things.” True, but few of us could make it through one day without our phones being answered or files in place.
Think about it from Ben’s perspective: “A little neglect may breed mischief: for want of a receptionist the call was lost; for want of a call the deal was lost; and for want of a deal the paycheck was lost.” Not merely a recipe for mischief; it’s a recipe for collapse!
In a New York Times interview, The Lesson of 38 Candy Bars, the subject shares this great lesson about the little things, “I’ll never forget one of the interactions we had with my commanding general of the division in which I was a platoon leader. We were at Fort Bragg, N.C. We had miserable weather. It was February and not as warm as you would think it would be in North Carolina. It had been raining for about a week, and the commanding general came around to review some of the platoons in the field. He went to one of my vehicle drivers and he asked him what he thought of the exercise we were on. To which the young private said, “Sir, it stinks.” I saw my short career flash before my eyes at that point.
He asked why, and the private said: “There are people who think this is great weather for doing infantry operations. I personally think 75 and partly cloudy is better.”
And so the commanding general said, “What can I do to make it better for you?” And the private said, “Sir, I sure could use a Snickers bar.” So a couple days later we were still moving through some really lousy weather, and a box showed up for the private. And that box was filled with 38 Snickers bars, which is the number of people in my platoon. And there was a handwritten note from the commanding general of our division that said, “I can’t do anything about the weather, but I hope this makes your day a bit brighter, please share these with your buddies.”
And on that day, at that time, we would’ve followed that general anywhere. It was a very small thing, and he didn’t need to do it, but it impressed upon me that small gestures are hugely important.”
Might be a good day to thank the people that keep you on your horse every day!