“Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the everyday things nearest to us.”
— Booker T. Washington
“And now you know – the rest of the story.” That was the famous closing line spoken by broadcaster Paul Harvey at the end of his beloved radio program. For decades, Paul used obscure facts to tell The Rest of the Story – behind-the-scenes tales revealing how a fascinating – often small – element changed the course of notable figures’ lives and, at times, history.
It’s often difficult to find a celebration of something small – even if it’s ultimately remarkably significant. We marvel at the grandeur of an old, massive oak tree, with little thought for the seed that gave it creation. We write tales of ships and sailors who survived stormy seas because of a lighthouse, yet the actual light bulb rarely makes the script.
Practically speaking, there are small, yet significant, opportunities around each of us everyday. Whether or not we see and take advantage of them is another matter. Consider this: Recognizing what others have done for us and saying “thank you” is a difference of merely seconds of our time. A quick message or phone call to acknowledge effort and express gratitude requires a fraction of our day, but may have a tremendous impact on someone.
Even better, consider the greater value of a handwritten note over a text message. We trade a few extra minutes and effort for something uncommon, thoughtful and notable. Ask most servers how much a few extra dollars in tip is noticed. It’s generally change that we’ll never miss, but it makes a marked impression on those taking care of us.
Whether buying a cup of coffee for the person behind us in a drive-thru or picking up a piece of trash out of a neighbor’s yard – there are opportunities all around us to encourage others with only the slightest amount of extra time or effort. It simply requires a little more intentional awareness of our surroundings and then the initiative to take action. We may never know the ultimate significance of these small gestures, but we know that the rest of the story is about an uncommon life that maximizes common opportunities.