Many of us use the turn of the year as a symbolic point to make resolutions, start afresh and take a new approach. Usually things we know we should have been doing anyway but, hey, you need to start somewhere.
I didn’t really make any specific resolutions this year, but I have been thinking on a broader level about improvements, about how to make things just that little bit better. How do I make processes run a little smoother at work? What new approaches can make the team perform on a higher level?, how can my wife and I find that extra time (and energy) for each other when we both work and have a toddler and a crawler at home?
I concluded that maybe we’re better off trying to fix the small things rather than jumping in with huge daunting grand plans. Maybe the key is to look at all the micro ‘hows’ rather than the big meandering macro ‘whats’?
At around this time a video randomly popped up on my feed – one apparently that has likely also popped up on yours at some point in the last 3 years (it’s gone viral in a big way and had nearly 100 million views). It was a 2014 graduation speech to the University of Texas by Admiral William H. McRaven, a decorated US forces commander. What he says puts a great perspective on all of this.
The main message? “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” The line gets a laugh, but in his own way he basically sums up the idea I had been trying and failing to say in my own head;
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. If, by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that’s made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
I guess it’s the sort of lesson you would expect from a military leader, but while you can certainly practice the literal lesson of making your bed every morning, you can also apply the same principle to the way you approach your work, your projects, your daily tasks and your relationships.
My favourite line of his is that making your bed will “reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”
Exactly! Lots of small changes are easier to accomplish and will almost certainly be more effective in impacting the bigger picture.
Something else I found which ties in nicely here is an article by Nick Miaritis – a Global Business Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York and a serial blogger. His piece asks us to ‘rethink the first 10 minutes of our day’; to make a few small changes (no snoozing, drink water, don’t look at your phone first thing etc) which just might transform how we approach the rest of our day.
My favourite tip is to have a ‘Two-do list’; the idea that in this time of our fast-moving busy lives, never-ending information and endless platforms to check emails, messages, pictures, blogs and news, it might just make sense to get up in the morning and spend the first few minutes focusing our brains solely on the TWO most important things which will happen that day;
“Close your eyes and imagine them already done, observe how they will make you feel, how they may make other people in your life feel, etc. Your “two-do” list can consist of anything from cooking dinner for your family, walking 10K steps or crushing a big presentation — all that matters is that you decide what the two things are and let them rise above everything else going on that day.”
I like that piece of advice and I like the notion that the way we start our day can impact our approach, mood and energy levels for the rest of it; how we work, how we treat other people and how motivated we are. A good start, of course, is to make your own bed…
- by Tariq Siraj