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Do small things matter?

I read quite a number of books (that’s a bit misleading but let’s just go with it) and of late I have been reading a book by Jeff Olson called the slight edge. I’ve learnt a few things that I think would be useful for y’all to know about, especially those who are into building startups and the likes. Oh, and yea, it’s not a techie book but it can surely help a techie out.

By the way, I haven’t finished reading the book yet but so far I’m getting the vibe that it’s about the power of a philosophy more or less derived from the compound interest principle– something we Zimbabweans have little appreciation of and honestly, I wouldn’t expect otherwise. Truth is, the famous 2008 era didn’t just affect our tummies but it also redefined our way of thinking. Most people lost decades worth of savings when the dollar devalued and now it’s difficult to believe in the concept of compounding interest.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about that, well at least not about compound interest in its strict form, but more of what can be learnt from it. The first thing would be the power of small things. Small is hardly celebrated (except in nanotechnology) because it’s small! Small is often inconspicuous and as such cannot be celebrated. However, we tend to forget that small can and will accumulate if the right conditions are met.

Let’s narrow it down to actions. We tend to get all worked out with projects simply because we want to work on them all at one go –often during the last minute. It’s typical for a student to do their assignment just the day before the due date regardless of when they would have received it (guilty as charged). But wouldn’t it be better to start setting aside 5 minutes every day to research on the assignment rather than overwhelm yourself at the last minute? Fact is, you’re bound to produce well researched work then and better still, you’re likely to remember whatever the assignment is about better than when you just hurriedly get it done. So isn’t the insignificant 5 minutes of your 24 hours every day worth it?

I know we often say “I work better under pressure” but now I’ve noticed it’s just laziness talking. It takes some level of discipline to do things in bits and pieces so we just would rather not. But I dare you today, do a case study on yourself. Work on that assignment or program step by step vs. your usual way of doing things and see if it doesn’t significantly improve your results.

The second thing I learnt from this is to not take your ‘small’ steps for granted. Most people are hard on themselves if they do not see significant change too soon. Some even give up on that million dollar idea they had simply because it hasn’t materialised in say a year, but remember Rome wasn’t built in day! I know there is a thin line between being patient and being stupid but don’t be too quick to think ‘stupid’ especially because of emotion.

Lesson three and last lesson for the day is: pay attention to your everyday activities. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying that goes “watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become deeds. Watch your deeds, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character and character is everything!” So yea, contrary to popular belief it’s those little things that you do every day that make up the big things in life and not the other way round!


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