To Succeed, Sweat the Small Stuff

For some time now, there has been controversy surrounding the popular theory which suggests that we “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”

Richard Carlson, Ph.D., was considered to be one of the foremost experts on happiness and stress reduction. As the author of 30 popular books including the runaway bestseller, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff, he showed millions of people how not to let the small things in life get the best of them.

Apparently, Carlson’s advice struck a nerve with readers worldwide as his book was an instant success!

  • The book made publishing history as USA Today’s #1 bestselling book for two consecutive years.
  • The title spent more than 100 consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.
  • The book is considered one of the fastest selling books of all time.
  • In 2004, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff was voted one of the top ten most-read books in the past decade!
  • 26 million books have been published in 35 languages in over 130 countries.

However, in spite of all of this success, Carlson’s advice was often misunderstood. His focus to readers was how not to let the small things in life get the best of them. That advice, of course was right on the money. Many people, however, interpreted the message to be more along the lines of “don’t waste your time and energy on details.” This interpretation certainly IS NOT the author’s message, and those who have adopted this philosophy have done themselves and others a major disservice.

In today’s chaotic and competitive environment, attention to detail has been the decisive factor determining success or failure for many organizations across industries. It will certainly continue to do so.

Think about some of the things that aggravate customers today—sometimes to the point where they take their business elsewhere.

  • Having to hunt down a waiter for more coffee or the check.
  • Not receiving a genuine welcome or prompt greeting.
  • Waiting too long on hold when making reservations.
  • Waiting too long for service.
  • Having to stand in line.
  • Personnel lacking product knowledge.
  • Phone calls transferred several times.
  • Unclean silverware or glass.
  • Apathetic personnel.
  • A filthy bathroom.
  • Lack of eye contact.
  • Lack of a simple smile.

I think you would have to agree that all of these examples could be considered “small stuff,” “details,” “the basics.” Yet more people switch loyalties and alliances for reasons similar to those listed above than they do for what may be considered as major concerns.

The “big stuff” occurs less often, demands immediate attention, and is seldom repeated. The “small stuff” is seldom noticed by those who should address such issues, seldom seems to be addressed, contributes to a lasting “image,” and is often discussed among customers who have little tolerance for such lack of concern.

Note that successful organizations in all industries today are indeed training their people, communicating a philosophy, and focusing on the importance of “sweating the small stuff” to insure customer satisfaction and future success. Big things happen when you do the little things right!

If asked, how would your employees respond to the need to “sweat the small stuff”? Do you know?

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

One thought on “To Succeed, Sweat the Small Stuff

  1. Thank you for sending me your daily articles. I found your website on twitter. You have a lot of fans out there and this blog is a gold mine! You will become part of my day every day!


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