The Smallest Investments that Yield the Biggest Returns
If you could improve something that matters to you in three minutes a day would you do it?
Small investments make a huge difference.
We’re doing a hugging experiment in our home. I’ve been hugging my wife for one minute. Three times a day I set the timer on my phone for one minute and we hug until the alarm goes off.
After a few days we agreed that hugging makes life better and life was already good.
What kind of person wouldn’t spend three minutes a day making life better?
The smallest investments that yield the biggest returns:
#1. Begin your day on your knees.
Spend at least one minute humbling yourself. If you believe in prayer, do so. If you don’t believe in prayer, kneel and bow in silence.
I have found deep resistance in my heart to kneeling. This resistance points to a need for humility.
Everything good in leadership begins with humility.
#2. Say “Good Morning”.
A friend of mine recently changed jobs. When I asked how he liked it, he said, “Everyone says ‘Good morning’. Not just the boss.”
If saying, “Good morning,” improves work, why wouldn’t you walk around saying “Good morning”?
#3. Say “Please”.
You don’t mind asking people to do things. Maybe you don’t mind telling people to do things. But when was the last time you said, “Would you please …?”
Confession: “Please” makes me uncomfortable. I can say, “Would you take care of …?” But when you add the word “please” it sticks in my throat.
“Please” humbles you and honors others.
#4. Say “You’re awesome”.
Notice something good about EVERYONE and then tell them what you notice.
Don’t wait for perfection to compliment imperfect people.
If that irritating employee is as bad as you think, fire them. Or, fire yourself for hiring them.
What small things make a big difference for you? For others?
Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon. Booker T. Washington
7 Small Changes that will Make a Big Difference in Your Life (Success)
The Small Behaviors that Create Excellence at Work (The Ladders)
Another quick one that makes a difference is saying thank you. Having talked to a lot of people about recognition, saying thank you seems to be the one that takes the least effort for the most reward. The acknowledgement of someone’s time and efforts makes a big difference to them and to you.
Thanks Chloe. Thank you! 🙂
One random act of kindness a day, can make a difference. I have preached this for years.
Making sure you tell someone like you portrayed a hug, a kiss, a hug, a simple act makes a difference.
Surely as a Leader acknowledges their associates speaks respect, if we grow with respect perhaps kindness follows, really depends on how you value the little things that can make a difference.
Those raised with respectful etiquette and manners shines the array of humility and kindness, which I see lacking in today’s society.
Smile, hold the door for someone, say thank you! Work and please sounds like begging, perhaps could you?
Great post and a wonderful follow up to the message I heard last Sunday on “giving thanks”.
Don’t forget authenticity …
Don’t just say it, or just do it,
But mean it …
And for good/right reason;
no matter the immediate effect
(it may not be what you expect).
When someone pisses their toxicity at you
(for “triggering” them
by trying to be decent +/or being caring),
they are simply marking their territory
(they don’t want to be “known” as your objective)
and expanding their personal sphere of influence
(as an inverted “cry” for attention).
Use that three minutes
(or ten, if that’s what it takes)
to oil your wings feathers,
and make them impervious
to gratuitous manipulation,
and open the mind’s eye
to mutual persuasion.
And pay attention to your (unseen/unintended) contribution to the situation …
For with genuine humility
Comes good grace,
and with grace comes epiphany
(the appearance of divinity in our lives),
Comic and Tragic, at once.
I love this kind of message, but have noticed that we’re talking a lot about basic manners and behaviors in social media lately. It’s a little disheartening that, although very true and great to reinforce, we have to ask for basic consideration of others. If you treat people the way you want to be treated there might be a lot less animosity in the world.
Liked the post and its good contents.
I would add a few more gestures to your small investments list. Smile, shaking hands, greeting with folded hands, getting up from your seat to receive a visitor, drop till the door when someone leaves your office/home, encourage the youth by adequate motivation, help others going out of the way and respect the elders.
Thank you for the reminder. Big changes result from small actions, and these can drive so much contagious positivity.
Every point you make about how to pay attention to the small things are great. I’d just like to add that perhaps we can pay attention to the small things against a backdrop of the bigger picture. Longfellow said we shouldn’t be troubled with great ambitions but maybe that is a little extreme. Maybe we can have ambition but know that to achieve those larger goals we must focus more closely on the smaller things. I would assume your ultimate goal is to have the happiest marriage with your wife that you possibly can, therefore focusing on the small things like hugging helps you refine the outcomes of that goal. Good luck on the hugging! I will try the same.
Putting down or moving away from distractions while trying to talk or listen to someone. It might seem like common courtesy, but I see it too often in today’s society, folks not putting down the phone or looking at a monitor while trying to listen. All of it is distracting and makes the other person feel less important. Its a small move that can make a difference in how someone is perceived or valued. And it can make you more valuable to that person over the long term.
My suggestion follows from Tim’s. Making and keeping eye contact to me is saying that you do care about the other person. I realize that some cultures are not as relaxed about direct eye contact and we need to honour their preference if we sense that our eye contact may be causing them discomfort. I love the idea of hugging and we already do that several times a day but without the timer. One minute sounds superb! Positively and grateful for this post as always, Pauline Duncan-Thrasher
The smallest things are some of the most important. The four investments are excellent advice on how to focus on the small things. One thing that I would love to add to the list is tell someone that you love them. This is something I always tell my wife especially when I am getting off the phone with her. I have heard conversations between husband and wife with it ending abruptly without saying “I love you.” I have always taken the approach that this could be the last time I will have spoken with my wife, so I always want her to know that I truly love her. I will admit there are times after a difficult discussion it is not always easy to say, but I always do.
The idea of small things was also discussed in the post titled, “QUESTIONS THAT FUEL ENERGY WHEN YOUR TANK IS LOW” which discusses how trivial and mundane tasks have on energy levels. This is also seen with the small investments while they may seem mundane, they are important. I remember when I first started Basic Training with the Unites States Army, the Drill Sergeants drilled into us on to hold the drinking cups in the DFAC (cafeteria) a certain way. They wanted us to hold two cups close to our chest while walking around. At first, I thought this was to ensure cups did not spill, but it seemed very odd how much emphasis they put into holding the cups. They were quick to correct the issue if someone was not holding the cups in the way they instructed. Eventually, a fellow soldier worked up the courage to ask a Drill Sergeant why we had to hold the cups the certain way. He laughed at us and told us we would find out soon enough and he was correct. When we got to the grenade range, we found out why holding the cups a certain way was so important. After a few practice rounds with dummy grenade, we were given two live grenades. We had to hold the grenade the same way we held the cups to ensure we did not drop or misplace the grenades. The small thing of holding the cups a certain way was a task that lead to a large investment with holding live grenades.
I absolutely loved this post because it can be applied to so many aspects of our lives. I wholeheartedly agree with you that small investments such as saying please, good morning, or you’re awesome are excellent ways of building relationships and becoming a better leader. Even though these are small acts of kindness, they eventually add up and help lead us to our eventual goal. I really like your example of hugging your wife everyday because it is simple to do, and it really helps to strengthen your relationship long term. From a career perspective, in order to fulfill our big goals, if we spend time doing small things, then it would eventually help us reach our ultimate ambitions. For example, if the goal is to become a better leader, then one should focus on complimenting their employees’ everyday. By increasing the morale of the team and focusing on people’s positive attributes, it encourages employees to work harder and become even better. I distinctively remember one supervisor who actively followed this principle. Because he was so generous with his compliments, it made me want to work even harder on projects and be a better employee. His encouragement helped build my self-confidence, and I ultimately improved my technical skills at the job.