Solomon, the wise Israelite King gave a timeless homily in Songs of Solomon. He counseled, “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.”
The Metaphor of Little Things
Little foxes are a metaphor for negligence of seemingly innocuous habits and attitudinal behaviours. They are acts of omission in little details about important things which later deteriorate and become big issues. This negligence usually results in dire consequences and mars one’s chances of success in life.
“For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider, the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost. All for the want of a horse shoe nail.”
An engineer received complaint that a road construction work was behind schedule. He decided to visit the site to ascertain the cause of delay. On getting to the site, he saw and read the road sign put up which stated, “Slow men at work”. What the supervisor wanted to write was, “Slow, men at work.”
A little thing such as a ‘comma’ makes the difference and distorts the message. The engineer was unhappy and instructed that the team should be changed since they were slow as demonstrated by the road sign. The supervisor’s rationale that it was a careless mistake came rather too late.
The Conqueror of Alexander the Great: A Little Thing!
Failure to pay attention to details in little things could be costly. It could embarrass you. It could make you look incompetent.
People fuss about big things. They ignore little things. Your attitude to little things either makes or mars your chances to succeed at work and in life.
Little things matter. If you want to know the effectiveness of little things, spend the night in a small room with a mosquito.
Alexander the Great, the king of Macedon and conqueror of the Persian Empire, undefeated in battle and considered one of history’s most successful commanders was defeated by a mosquito and died of malaria at the age of 33 in 323BC.
Self Audit on Little Things
Pay attention to little things, they matter. The most effective way to solve big problems is to begin to pay close attention to little things.
You should start with self audit and take a stock of your life.
In Personal Hygiene
In your personal hygiene, body odour is offensive and a turn off. Do not ignore it. Unkempt appearance is not attractive. Pay close attention to how you look. Do not wear clothes that are dirty and not ironed. The rule of hygiene is one undergarment per day. Replace torn undergarment. There is a feel of confidence you get when you put on new underwear.
Your appearance matters. It goes a long way to project you as respectable and urbane. Refrain from biting your finger nails or picking your nose either in the private or in public.
Your social manners are important. Embrace correct table manners. Be free but disciplined. Be a good guest. When visiting, be mindful of your environment and pay attention to the cues from your hosts. Do not be a lousy or timid guest. Be ready to converse in diverse subjects. Be courteous.
In Healthy Living
Do not indulge in killer habits. Listen to your common sense, and follow your doctor’s advice. You should not ignore your dietary and medical advice if you want to live long. Cultivate healthy lifestyle of exercising, good dietary habits and moderation in all things. It takes personal discipline and social support to overcome bad habits, but it is possible.
In Money Management
Money has wings, if not properly managed it flies away. You should understand that expenses rise to increase in income. Learn to discipline your appetite. Be spendthrift. Earn all you can. Save more than you earn. Invest for the future. Be charitable. Eliminate envy. Work hard; pray hard and be content with what you have.
In Personal Effectiveness
You should avoid procrastination. You should avoid tardiness. Do not give appointments that you cannot keep. Do not go for meetings late. Arriving late at meeting using road traffic as an alibi always should be avoided. Be attentive and participate at meetings. Avoid using your phones or sending messages when meeting is ongoing.
Learn to say “I love you” always. Learn to laugh. Learn to touch. Be quick to say “I am sorry” when you are wrong. Do not try to win an argument with your spouse. Learn to listen very well during conversations. Do not ignore your spouse. If you feel sleepy when your spouse is having a conversation with you, do not pretend that you are not. Excuse yourself and postpone the conversation till the next day. Do not ignore your spouse’s phone calls. Call him or her when you are running late. Let him or her know where you are at any particular time. Remember your spouse’s important dates.
On the Road
Do not use your phone when driving. It is a major source of distraction that can result in accident. Always practise defensive driving, making provisions for other individuals behind the wheel around. Treat road users with dignity and respect. Learn to be patient. Leave for your destination on time, so you do not get impatient when you meet traffic logjam on your way.
In the Office
Do not shout instructions at people. Learn to say “please” when making a request. You should say “thank you” when someone has done something for you. Be humble. Do not instigate others. Do not backbite. Do not gossip. Do not bear false tales. Do not be aggressive. Avoid being passive. You should be assertive in the workplace. Respect all persons around you. Give your best: it is the least that is expected of you.
Author: Babatunde Fajimi
Article was first published in The Union Newspaper under CEO Mentorship on Sunday, March 22, 2015.