Not one of us is one particular thing. We are an accumulation of everything that goes on around us. It is easy to want to ignore problem areas, yet they are back there in the back of your mind somewhere. Everything from the big question of I am going to afford to send my kids to college to the house payment often causes us to carry a lot of weight on our shoulders.
There are also little things which irritate us. The kitchen was a mess when I walked into it this morning. The lawn needs to be raked and cut. The car needs to be washed. The place needs to be picked up. These are all small annoyances. I have a secret to tell you about small annoyances. When you’re already irritated, the little annoyances can start to carry the same weight as the big problems.
We see this at every level of command. I remember a commander I had once. He was a full bird colonel who is very good and caring about his job and his people. I understood that after he left our group, he went on to earn his stars as general. One day, he came over to my shop and spent a few hours of the afternoon watching me running a performance test on a piece of test equipment. What I was doing was a very tricky test to perform. It required a lot of delicate adjustments to get three different parts of the test equipment to work together to achieve accurate readings. I was preparing the machines for a trip I was going on at the end of the week to Guam. I needed to make sure everything worked, and I was up on the procedure before I got there.
Although the afternoon had its ups and downs, the Colonel sat there and just watched me. He looked around the spotlessly clean shop where I had 25 people working, and I could tell by the look on his face he felt delighted and comfortable there. I did not understand at the time, and I later came to realize that everyone needs to get out of their environment every once in a while and go someplace it makes them feel good. Even if just for a few hours.
Try to schedule a trip each week to a comfortable place. Just a little niche somewhere where you can feel right about everything.
About those little things that irritate you around your place, take charge. Put time in the schedule to wash the car. Have a routine where you pick up the house and clean the kitchen at a particular time each day. If you clean it before you go to bed, you wake up to a cleaner place. And I bet that makes you feel better in the morning. Trying to blame others or demand results or act the boss just ends up making us look like the fool.
To make things better, each has to take leadership and ownership. Results may not be immediate, yet given time and consistency positive changes will happen.
Thanks for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.