Handle Little Things Before They Become Big Things
Cheryl and I were in a grocery store out of town recently. We turned the corner into a main aisle and instantly saw a gentleman slip and fall. He wasn’t injured… or at least he said he wasn’t… but it shook him up quite a bit before he scrabbled to his feet. We then noticed that he had slipped on some liquid on the floor. Someone said the spill had been there awhile. As I expected, within minutes every manager in the store, easily identified by their shirt colors, were on the scene, making sure the man was okay and that the spill was cleaned.
As I left the store, I saw managers roaming the store, picking up everything they could find on the floor. There was plenty to find. The store was dirty from a very busy day of shopping and trash was everywhere. I had noticed it as we walked around the store, but it was even more obvious now.
It was a good reminder for me. As leaders, we need to:
Take care of little things before they become big things.
I’m not suggesting a leader be a micro-manager. I'm suggesting that the leader needs to be observant of the things others can’t see or aren’t looking for, which can impact the success of the overall vision.
I started working in a grocery store when I was 12 years old. The store’s owner seemed to always know what was going on in the store, often seeing things I or other employees didn’t see. It was aggravating to this teenager, but years later, when I worked in retail management, I copied this leader’s intentionality. I refused to do any paperwork on Saturdays. The busiest shopping day was reserved solely for customers. I made sure I was roaming the store constantly, looking for anything that might be a problem or an opportunity. I was usually the first to recognize a customer looking for an open register or if the store’s temperature was too hot or too cold.
As a pastor, I had an intern who shadowed me for the summer. I remember telling him one Sunday that part of my job was to look for things that others didn’t see. I can’t catch everything, but as the leader I certainly need to be looking for anything that could make or break a successful day in the experience of a visitor. That could be a spill on the floor, a long line at children’s check-in, the missing volunteer or the visitor who looks lost.
Because I want to take care of little things before they become big things.
I learned it well.
By the way, this principle works well in other areas of your life… such as in your marriage… your parenting… your personal disciplines...