It is in the air right now…setting goals, making resolutions, trying to make changes. This is all fine and can be a lovely experience…until it isn’t. For this process to go well, it is important to remember, it is the little things that make success possible. All things are made up of lots and lots of little things that connect to each other in ways beyond our imagination. Honoring the little things we do brings more awareness and roots us in presence that allows us to live a conscious and authentic life. Doing little things well, with our fullest attention and awareness can keep us awake to life and bring peace to us and everyone around us. The intention we put behind each little thing comes back to us in direct proportion. Let’s talk about socks…
Little things done well is probably the greatest secret to success. –Coach John Wooden
Coach Wooden has shared many great lessons about the little things and paying attention to detail. Coach describes paying attention to detail as the difference between champions and near champions. In many of his books, he gave us the beautiful story of how he instructed his players to put on their socks. At the first squad meeting each season, he personally demonstrated with explicit detail how to start with the toes, how to run your fingers along the side to prevent wrinkles, how to handle the heel and much more (it is actually quite a long explanation). He would demonstrate and then watch each player do it. Then he would move on to the other foot and do that one, first demonstrating, then watching. Next, how to tie your shoes. He speaks passionately about preventing blisters and avoiding laces coming undone.
In various interviews with Coach’s players, they share their perspective of the sock lessons. They recall being excited and ready to have their first meeting with the greatest coach of all time. With enthusiastic anticipation, waiting to hear how they would win the championship, how he had been so successful, the secret to winning, etc., anxious to get down to those legendary practices, they would soon find themselves learning how to put on their socks. They would start the season with intense sock training and end winning the championship; quite a powerful lesson on little things.
Coach left a great gift behind by recounting his dedication to the little things for us. He planned his practices down to the second. He was all about proper preparation and attention to the smallest detail. No matter what success his team encountered, he always stayed true to his Pyramid of Success, living all of the little things explained within and doing his personal best in all things (big and small). He started every single season with the socks.
I have heard Eckhart Tolle talk at great length about noticing how it feels to pull on your pants, how to feel the fabric on your skin, how to experience every part of getting dressed in the morning, bringing presence to it all. He talks about truly experiencing our morning shower instead of not really being there because we have allowed our mind to distract us with thoughts about the day or worry about the past. He describes the difference in really being there and feeling the water hit our skin and the joy of that everyday experience we so often miss.
Thich Naht Hanh tell us, “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” I have heard him describe the experience of tea. It is lovely. When asked how long it takes him to drink a cup, he said it was about an hour. A mindful cup of tea is an hour well spent.
If you do little things well, you’ll do big ones better.
I have a plaque on my desk that says the quote above. It has no name attached to it; someone said it, someone made the plaque. I am grateful they did. It is a nice reminder.
Years ago, my son found his favorite poem. He recited it quite frequently, even in front of his preschool class. It just so happens, it is called Little Things. It is by Julia A. F. Carney. I included this image below in a previous post about Beauty. To me, this is a beautiful image because it is my boy’s sweet young writing and because the words are so powerful and contain so much wisdom. On his own, at three years old, he connected to these words and repeated them countless times throughout our days. That little thing he did for us was really a huge blessing.
Nothing big can happen without countless little things happening just as they should. We create and design our world with each and every little thing we do. This isn’t about doing things perfectly, there is no such thing. It is about bringing presence to everything we do and doing it with our fullest attention and awareness. It is also about learning how to set goals that will allow enough room to keep all the little things in sharp focus. I have noticed how awful it feels when I cannot do things to the best of my ability and with my full attention. I would rather choose not to do something than have to rush through and half-way go through the motions. My soul knows about the little things and what grounding myself in them feels like, anything less is numbing, inauthentic and brings suffering.
Doing the little things well is truly living, it’s really being where we are and honoring every little detail. All the little activities, choices, thoughts, etc., turn into how we are creating the world we live in. Treating every little thing as sacred brings more presence, more love, more peace, more joy, more miracles, more alignment with our soul’s purpose — more of everything we are meant to live. As you set your goals and resolutions this year, be sure you have enough room for honoring the little things. Those little things add up, multiply and come back to bless you in countless ways — big and small.
May the goals you set for yourself this year be blessed with the proper attention, awareness and presence for honoring the little things necessary to achieve them. Wishing you joy and presence found in putting on your socks, pulling up your pants, taking a shower and drinking a cup of tea. Sending you love!