Creating Rituals to Care for Small Things

Creating Rituals to Care for Small Things


Strategy is a big thing, but the success of strategy is based on the shepherding of small things. I recently lost two Small things: a Satechi BT MediaRemote Bluetooth Multi-Media Remote Control for iPhone, iPad & iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook, and Mac Mini and a Jawbone ICON HD Headset and THE NERD USB Adapter.

Ritual becomes a problem when you evaluate every more diminutive hardware. I have a Mont Blanc StarWalker Resin Ballpoint Pen. I have had it for years. My pen and I have a ritual. I reinforce the ritual with quality checks that ensure I don’t lose my prized pen.

Unfortunately for new items in one’s repertoire, the rituals don’t exist. They don’t feel like yours yet. They are other, disjointed from experience, extra.

I have to say I liked both products. I didn’t want to lose them. Unlike some categories of evaluation where I receive many of the same type of items, these were both unique. I don’t own another iPad remote and my aging, original Jawbone headset lies in multiple pieces in a desk drawer.

These two very recent incidents have taught me that I have to protect the small things in my life that don’t come with built-in emotional attachments like children or puppies (both of which also make themselves known — my Jawbone icon HD was either picked up or stepped on  — or run over— somewhere near Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park — it did not utter a sound in its demise or capture).

So here are some ideas:

  1. Put the small thing in the same place each time and initiate a pat to check for it, and then a pull on whatever it is contained in to assure its security.
  2. Assign the small thing to something big, like a bag full of other accessories. Always put the small thing in the same bag. Even if you think you will need it right away, and if you do, dig it out, at least is will be where you know its supposed to be rather than someplace convenient that you forgot to remember.
  3. If the small thing requires charging, then plug it in to the appropriate charging cable, which may increase the relative size of the small thing by orders of magnitude—it is harder to loose small things with tails.
  4. Use a dish or cup in a hotel room (the one reason to retain ash trays) as a container for your small stuff. If the small stuff starts out on your person, quickly take it/them them off and place in the container. Before you leave the room, check on container.
  5. If you put your small thing in a pocket, keep checking the pocket. If you aren’t OCD then act like you are in this instance. Small stuff easily falls out of even the most secure places. I believe my icon HD managed to fall out of a pocket with a Velcro closure. But like a mouse, it found the narrowest of outs and dropped from my world.
  6. If you are going someplace new, or where you will be distracted, don’t take the small thing. Your mind may not be able to simultaneously absorb the new experience and ritually care for your small thing.

And contrary to Richard Carlson’s advice (Author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff–and it’s all small stuff ), we do need to sweat the small stuff, because our lives are continuously shrinking. It may be almost impossible to accidentally misplace a copy of War and Peace (Second Edition) (Norton Critical Editions) because it almost creates its own gravity well. The same text on an Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi carries almost no weight. Slipped into the back of an airplane seat a paperwhite could easily disappear in the folds of a magazine.

How do you manage your small stuff. Please share.

As for strategy, don’t get so caught in the big ideas and forces that you forget the relatively small things like customers, employees and partners that allow you to execute your strategy. You need to create rituals in your business that remind you, and them, of their value.

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Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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