We are often told not to sweat the small stuff. Don’t get worked up over trivial things. And mostly that’s how I roll. I don’t very often get worked up over incidentals. People have written books on the subject to help us have a more stress free life. However, sometimes the small stuff is worth sweating over to make a difference to someone else.
I used to manage a team of over 250 staff who worked around the clock. They were the lowest paid staff in the organisation. I used to think that they couldn’t possibly have anything to worry about, they’d turn up to work, do their job then go home again. They didn’t have to worry about budgets and rosters and equipment and processes and management performance audits. That was until one of them came into my office one time and broke down in a hysterical fit of sobbing. Dear God, now what do I do?
I shut the door behind her, handed over the box of tissues I always kept on my desk then waited without saying anything. Once she’d gathered her composure she went on to tell me a whole raft of problems at home that had been building up over a period of months that had now all come to a head. Her father had been taken ill suddenly and passed away, her child was being expelled from school for antisocial behaviour, she’d found out that her partner had been having an affair and had just emptied their bank account and run off with the other person and because she was so low paid she would not be able to afford the rent and bills on her own. Quite understandably her world was collapsing around her and the only constant was coming to work. Jeez, and there’s me stressing over a bloody management report in my nice single person office, with a window a nice secure home and social life.
It hit me then that everyone has something going on in their life that maybe they don’t want the outside world to know about, or they try to keep private.
This particular person downloaded all her troubles. I didn’t necessarily have the answers, although made a couple of suggestions to deal with the immediate issues. At the end of a long talk she looked at me thanked me for listening and not judging her.
Sweating the small stuff could mean something simple like being kind and courteous to each other. Sweating those kinds of small things could make a real difference for someone.
Sweat the small stuff and make a difference.