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Surgeons washing their hands in a hospital while smiling“The little things are infinitely the most important.” – Arthur Conan Doyle [Tweet this.]

“How do you achieve mighty results in your business and your life?”
This was a question asked of a panel of speakers I was on at a conference in Orlando.

The first to answer was the president of a successful hospital in Toronto, Canada. The hospital scores extremely well in patient satisfaction, staff retention, patient outcomes and enjoys strong results financially.

She began her answer by sharing, “We achieved those ‘big things’ by focusing on the ‘small things.’ It was that easy. And that hard.”

She went on to explain that her primary focus after taking over as president was to make sure that every employee washed their hands after every single interaction.

Every time. No exceptions. Ever.

This was one area of patient care and infection control that they could actively manage as a team. And in being part of the solution of driving preventable infections down: the team was inspired and empowered to do more. [Tweet this.]

The culture of the entire organization changed as they focused on something seemingly small: hand washing – and began seeing positive results because of it.

Then other previously stalled initiatives began prospering, too. Team members began actively greeting patients, guests and coworkers with smiles. Improvements were made in patient hand-offs, ER wait time and patient satisfaction.

The entire organization changed because of the simple act of hand washing.

This phenomenon of a small change profoundly impacting mighty results isn’t isolated to a single hospital in Canada, either.

There is something called the “Broken Window” theory. Put forward by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, it suggests that something as minor as a single broken window in one house can cause a domino effect that negatively impacts the entire community. Fix the broken window, though, and you take a small but important step in fixing the entire community.

Putting the “Broken Window” theory into practice, New York City made mighty reductions in crime over the past few decades. In 1984, there were an average of five murders each day. A shift was made from responding to violent emergency calls to actively policing the streets. They enforced laws against panhandling, loitering, graffiti and a litany of other ‘petty’ crimes.

In subsequent decades, violent crime has fallen by more than 80% in New York! It appears the little things are infinitely the most important things.

So why should you care?

Glad you asked!

My friend, you may not work in health care, or patrol the streets in The Big Apple, but focusing on improving the small things in your life should be a big part of your daily effort. [Tweet this.]

Professionally, getting incrementally better each day and doing the little things right makes a difference for your team, shareholders and clients.

Relationships can be hard. Marriage is tricky. Parenting is frequently a challenge. And yet focusing on taking care of the small things makes overcoming the big things possible.

The little things are what support the foundation of personal and professional relationships. In being kind to others, returning phone calls at work, standing up to greet your spouse after a long day, looking into your kids eyes with no distractions at night: those little things add up to create a strong foundation from which future joys and success can grow and future pains and sorrows can be absorbed and comforted.

My friends, do you want to thrive professionally? Do you desire vitality in your health and vibrancy in your relationships? Are you ready to come alive spiritually?

Isn’t it time to live your radically inspired life?

Too frequently we wait, focus, plan, hope and pray for the big things. We await the summer vacation, we look forward to the retreat, we long for the promotions, or look forward to retirement.

Today, though, I challenge you to focus on making the little things a little better. It will drive mighty results in your business and in your life.

It’s that easy. And that hard.

What is ONE little thing you can do today to strengthen the foundation of a relationship, your work or your community? Share in the comments below.

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  • John O'Leary
    Reply

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Cheryl! J

  • Kristy
    Reply

    Learning to communicate effectively with my husband.

    • John O'Leary
      Reply

      Absolutely. Beautiful. I encourage you to think of ONE THING you can do today to communicate more effectively with your husband. The best is yet to come. J

  • Cheryl Houser
    Reply

    I feel in order to strengthen your work environment is to first strengthen your faith in what God has prepared you for whether it is to promote a positive environment by what you as an individual has to offer, for example fruits of your given spirit, in my case to be kind to whomever I may meet within my day and to be complimentary towards a good steward of the works that he or she may do in their tasks for the lord, assuring that his will in your life is always being fulfilled, and always note a day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels.

    • John O'Leary
      Reply

      AMEN. Thanks for sharing, Cheryl! J

  • Curtis
    Reply

    Loved this article.

    Everyday that I walk my Jack Russell, Olivia, I carry and extra bag to pick up trash along the street. Friends think it’s crazy and a waste of time. I don’t think it is. It makes me feel good that someone else walking their babies won’t have to look at the trash that irresponsible people tossed out.

    • John O'Leary
      Reply

      Love this, Curtis. Did you see this article from a few weeks ago? A man picked up trash on his walk to work everyday — and the result was astounding: http://rising-above.com/2015/04/7497/

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