Sweating the Small Stuff

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

I have become list obsessed.  In the morning I look at my list.  Through the day I measure myself by the number of tasks I’ve ticked off – and in the evening I wonder if I could have done more.  What kind of a life is that?

Last week, I found myself questioning the methods I have learnt and adopted over the last couple of years and wondered whether they were making me happy or helping me to get anywhere – and I came across this interesting site don’t sweat.  The author and his wife have taught America, through 25 million copies of a range of books, how to not worry so much about little details – so it seems.

The problem with my lists – is that they contain detail.  Lots of detail about small stuff.  I’ve found over time that there is no point having an item on the list that is a big picture item “Do the garden.”  As it needs to be specific to get things done, so I have detailed items “Cut the grass”, “Pick up litter” etc.  But the problem with detailed lists is that there’s a lot of small things – which in turn looks like a big problem – a long list.

And this weekend – I found myself thinking about the small details – as I’ve been reading Atul Gawande’s book – the Checklist Manifesto.  And realising that indeed, someone does need to paying attention to the small details of things – and if it’s not you – then who is it.

As the world mourns the death of Muhammad Ali I wondered yesterday how he got to have the reputation of being the greatest.  Was it a self-fulfilling prophesy?  Did he just have an enormous belief in himself.  I found myself reading quotes of Ali’s and the page that I liked most from my google search was the top 30 quotes of Ali on the Telegraph WebSite.

And the quote that spoke to me most was the one at the start and end of this page.  Maybe I am reading into the quote something that isn’t there and wasn’t ever intended to be there.  But to me Ali’s quote says – take care of the detail.  Do your homework, put the effort in, know your goal and how to achieve it.  The media portrays the public view of the man, but away from the spotlight he was putting in the effort day-in day-out to be the greatest.  He believed he was, and then he did the work to show that he was.  For now at least then, I will keep my lists, I will know the things I need to do and I will keep ticking them off.

So which of his many quotes speaks most to you?

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”


One thought on “Sweating the Small Stuff

  1. Remember when you do the list to include at least two things you have as already done and tick them off as done. So encouraging so if the day really falls apart you at have two things completed.

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