the sky floor

Never Underestimate the Big Importance of Small Things

June 2, 2021

I just finished a book called “The Midnight Library” about the space between death and life. Nora, the main character, is in this limbo and experiences the choice of any life she could’ve lived besides her own root life. There are significant choices; what if she didn’t quit the band and they became world-famous? And more modest choices; what if she decided to marry her boyfriend and run a pub in the country with him. 

All of this occurs in a library where the books are potential lives, and the librarian is a sage shaman gently leading the way. Nora’s librarian tells her that there are infinite lives based on her choices branching from her root life. She says, “never underestimate the big importance of small things.”

I can’t get that idea out of my head. Not just the branches of life our choices create. (Although I don’t believe there is a multi-verse, sorry Marvel Cinematic Universe.) But the summation of the small and seemingly mundane in our relationships, work, and spiritual lives. 

It can be easy to dismiss the tiny and minute. “No one will notice if I pick up that piece of trash, plus there are a hundred pieces just like it waiting to hit the pavement.” But if everyone picks up a piece of trash or decides not to toss it out on highway 290, a much larger problem is solved. 

If you want to lose weight, skipping one meal isn’t going to help all that much. But incremental self-control will; you take one less portion or choose cauliflower rice over the real, carbo-loaded deal. The big importance of small things at work again. 

What about in relationships? It is the small scale that makes a big difference. At the beginning of romantic relationships, the big gestures get a lot of attention – surprises and jewelry and flowers. But it is the little choices that equal a lifetime of genuine love. The prominent and flashy friendships come and go, but the choice to be available over hundreds of seasonal sea changes in someone’s life become a statement of love no single gesture could ever compete with. 

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In work, the same is true. Whether you are an employee or a business owner, the small things add up to who you are. As an employee, you make the largest waves with the smallest consistencies; helping co-workers when you don’t have to, always tidying the kitchenette, following up with a customer because you remembered they were confused about something. If you own a business, the everyday tasks add up too; being available to your clients, assisting without charging that extra nickel (or dime), bringing kindness to your interactions. 

It all adds up. And probably to a more considerable sum than the grand, obvious gestures that seem to get the world’s immediate attention. 

What small things can you start to do that will add up to a significant result? 

If you are interested in the book, here is a link: The Midnight Library.

I measure the value of books by their interest and entertainment level vs. commitment to read. In other words, a super long book has to be good – like, very good. I would count this book worth the read because it wasn’t long and had some fascinating moments, but if the length were doubled and not much else changed I would say pass. Hope that helps.