Getting worked up about whether a store has our particular brand of almost anything is small stuff. Having our personal ‘pet project’ left off the weekly agenda at work is small stuff. Snow storms are small stuff. Gossip is small stuff. Burnt cookies are small stuff.
However, I’ve had my focus on three bits of small stuff this week and it seems to me these are exactly the ‘small stuff’ about which I should be sweating.
To begin, it was little Benjamin’s first birthday this week, and although he is not ‘stuff’, he is small. He himself is small – he has only made one trip around the sun after all. His needs are small, his things are small, his worries are small and his joys are small. The reason we get to enjoy this very small, love-filled, happy, contented, quick-to-smile, secure little boy is because the adults in his life, his Mom and Dad, have been sweating the small stuff. Because they do such a good job of making sure the small stuff is taken care of, he is free to grow into a confident child. He is free to spend his energy doing exactly what he should be doing, exploring his safe world, enjoying all sorts of new foods, sleeping in a warm bed and feeling the love surrounding him.
Sometimes someone needs to sweat the small stuff.
My second look at small stuff came in the form of a quote I read by Catherine M. Wallace. ‘Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.’
We could rewrite this quote and easily remove the word ‘children’ and the message would still hold true. When anyone is trying to tell us ‘small stuff’, it is easy for us to be distracted or to appear uninterested. We do, after all, have our own very full plates of things to think about, to accomplish and to dream about. It’s easy to dismiss the thoughts of others as small stuff. I have witnessed over and over again, that when someone comes to me with seemingly small stuff, it is often big stuff to them. Allowing them to ‘sweat their small stuff’ by saying it aloud, we give them the gift of being seen, of being taken seriously, of being treated as a valuable person and sometimes of helping them carry their burden.
Sometimes we need to sweat the small stuff to clear the way for the big stuff.
With the economy struggling in Alberta over the last two years, our donations have understandably waned. The school has needs that we cannot fill.
This week we were able to, through an unexpected donation, purchase a gas cook-stove for the school and some desks for the newest classroom. The stove allows volunteers at the school to provide the students with hot porridge each morning, and a hot lunch at noon. The desks mean the children do not have to sit on the floor.
And they, and I are most grateful that someone is sweating the small stuff.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What small stuff needs sweating?’
Elizabeth is the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is also the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you learn how to purposefully sweat the small stuff.