In 1973, Peter Jenkins made a decision to walk across America. In search for his country, and himself, he set out on a journey 4,500 miles long.
Through the plains of the Midwest. The mountains and the dessert. Snow, wind, rain, ice, heat. Many miles. Almost killed on numerous occasions. Run over by trucks. Beaten by rednecks and the rest.
After his journey, a reporter that asked him “Was there anything that almost made you want to quit?”
Severe temps? Physical fatigue? Exhaustion? Sun burn? He responded, “the only thing that almost made me give up, was sand in my shoes.”
Sand in his shoes? Really? Out of all the challenges, obstacles, and barriers, sand was the breaking point?
He said he couldn’t figure out a way to keep the sand out of his shoes. Hmmm.
I love this story. I love that answer. What a fantastic reminder to all of us that the little things matter. They matter in walks across America. They matter in life. They matter in leadership.
As a leader, are you doing the little things?
What are you doing to make your people feel valued and special? Are you consistently writing thank you cards? Do you know their families and their hobbies? Do you take them to play golf? Are you investing in their development? Are you writing notes of encouragement? Are you bringing in bagels and coffee (and paying for it out of your pocket)? When was the last time you purchased a book for an individual and gave it to them because it applied to their life circumstances?
For Peter Jenkins, the little things (sand) worked against him. In leadership, not doing the little things can work against us.
On the other hand, doing the little things to serve our teammates can help us cross the line from disengaged to eternally loyal.
I’d love to hear what “little things” you are doing to separate yourself as a leader.