Ever wonder if the little stuff of life really matters in the grand scheme of things?
Well, it does. Just ask retired Admiral William McRaven.
During his 2014 commencement address to graduates at the University of Texas, McRaven reflected on the many lessons he learned during his 36 years as a Navy SEAL. The first item on his list? Make your bed.
While it seemed crazy to up-and-coming SEALs at the time, McRaven said he eventually realized that the logic makes perfect sense. Little things, like making your bed, set you up for success. One small accomplishment early in the day can lead to multiple accomplishments throughout the day. Plus, the person who does the little things right can probably be trusted with the bigger things in life.
If that last part sounds familiar, it’s probably because Jesus said the same thing more than 2,000 years ago. After telling His disciples a parable about a shrewd business manager, Jesus said, “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10 NIV). Of course the opposite is also true: If you can’t trust someone with the little things, you’ll never trust them with anything bigger.
So, little things matter to the Navy SEALs and little things matter to Jesus. Let’s hit a little closer to home. Here are three reasons why the little things should matter to you too.
1. Little things shape your character.
Your character really isn’t formed by the big events of your life. Instead, who you are is ultimately determined by the smaller choices you make each day.
When you choose to do what’s right every chance you get, you’re more likely to stick to your principles when the pressure’s really on. On the flip side, if you let the small things slide, you’ll follow the path of least resistance—even if that means compromising your core values.
2. Little things define your future.
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “Little things make big things happen.” World-class athletes live by that mantra every day. They know that putting the sweat in behind the scenes can lead to clutch performances in the limelight. They know that you play like you practice.
The same is true for all of us. The seemingly mundane choices we make each day determine our path, and that path determines our success or our failure. Want to make a difference in the world? Handle the little things with integrity.
3. Little things can expand your influence.
Somewhere in your sphere of influence, someone is aching for a little encouragement. They don’t need much—just a simple word of hope or a small act of kindness.
You hold the power to build people up or tear them down—and, often, a small investment on your part can lead to an incredible payoff down the road. By choosing encouragement, you’re choosing leadership. And leadership increases influence. But it all starts with doing little things that help others.
Of course, the little things can be easy to miss. After all, they’re little. And in a fast-paced, chaotic culture, the newest and shiniest toys can distract us from the details that really count. You’ve got to be intentional when you look for the little things. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth the extra effort.
Why? Because little things really do matter.