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Little Things Matter

As I mention in my introduction blog, I work at one of the "mongo sized" telecom/entertainment companies in the US,  which begins with an "A" and ends with a "T".

I‘ve worked at one or another of the companies for the past 32 years as they put Humpty Dumpty back together again and I've seen many management and leadership fads come and go. Every year the company runs a leadership program for Level 3 Managers and above and all have been very good learning experiences.
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There are a few in person venues around the country, but Dallas is where it is actually held at. Being in the Pacific Northwest I attend virtually from the comfort my home office.

Most of the 3 days are what you would expect at these kinds of things, but this year one of speakers was Admiral William McRaven, who led the US Navy Seals raid that got Osama Bin Laden.,

Lots of motivational stories and anecdotes, but the one line that really caught my attention is one that I’ve been focusing on with my son for the past few months.

Little things mean a lot.

Admiral McRaven was talking about Seal training and how the first thing they are taught to do in the morning is to make their bed to very precise specifications.  And his point was that if you can’t be counted on to do that little thing well, how could it be expected that you would be successful at bigger and more complicated tasks and responsibilities?

This is a concept that seems to escape my son on a fairly regular basis. His perspective is that, why of course he would do better on more important or complicated tasks because they were… well,  more important and complicated. Duhhh Dad. 

Not a very uncommon point of view for a kid his age.

I’ve tried the building block analogy where you can’t build a 2nd story if you don’t have
the basic foundation in place. This was followed by multiple analogies trying to get him 
to accept this basic truism of life, but none aligned with his current view of the world.

If at this point in the story you are expecting a happy ending and me telling you that we had a breakthrough, you are going to be disappointed. This is one of those “work in progress” lessons that may not sink in for years to come.

I found with my oldest son years ago that some lessons in life won’t truly be embraced by your children from your teaching. For him, it was a few years in the US Army before some life lessons finally took hold. It was the old joke in action “it’s amazing how much smarter my parents got as I grew older”. 🤪

So, for my younger one, I’ll keep working on finding an analogy and looking for a more receptive time for him to hear this and it may be next week or 5 years from now before he gets it.


My takeaway was relearning an old lesson: The parenting gig is a marathon, not a sprint. So settle in for the long haul.

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