Yes, small. And, important.
Don't waste the significance of people, jobs, and moments simply because they don't appear glamorous on the surface.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone doing what seems like a small job? It can be easy to forget that the gas station cashier, the man behind the hotel front desk, or the cleanup crew at an event are doing important work unless we stop to think about it.
Recently I found myself back in the same hotel where I spent many days of my state officer year. It was one of those hotels where the humidity indoors almost matched that of the outdoors, a few of the rooms were infamous for finicky air conditioners or showerheads, and the fitness center was the size of a large closet. Yet, for all its flaws, the people who worked there were some of the kindest I’d ever met. It’s been two years since I was a state officer, but one of the senior managers there, John, remembered me. I was walking past the front desk one night during my stay for this year’s Illinois FFA State Convention, and we struck up a conversation.
John shared that the hotel, along with many other businesses this year, was struggling to fill staffing needs. He’s been there for 20 years in one of the upper positions, yet this summer was finding himself doing laundry between desk shifts. It hit me like a 2x4 upside the head: here I was, thinking I was doing important work because I got to give a speech on a stage to a crowd of people, but this man was the real MVP. Along with the rest of the hotel staff, John was creating opportunities. How many of us have learned something new about the world the first (or fiftieth) time we’ve been in a new city at a hotel? How many of our favorite memories are from traveling? Yet in all of these meaningful experiences, it’s the people like John who really make them happen.
I told John thank you for the work he’s doing, because it is meaningful to me. He looked somewhat taken aback, and admitted that most people don’t see it that way. He’s right, and I regret not noticing sooner how important the small jobs are. Pointing that out to the people doing the work is a small thing, but it’s more important than we realize.
Regardless of what type of career we find ourselves in, we must never become too important for the small jobs. We will never be too important to make a pot of coffee, to say thank you to the waitress, or to acknowledge the value of the janitor’s work. It goes beyond even jobs and careers—where are we failing to make the small things important? Maybe we could make small chores around the house more pleasant for all involved if we realized that anything we do more than once adds up to a big piece of our whole lives. Perhaps we would value small conversations with people in our lives when we see that our lives are just a series of small interactions that build on each other. Just like my friend John at the hotel, let’s seek to recognize the importance of the small; small is important whether or not we see it, so let’s not waste its significance.
What is one small thing that you can do this week to recognize its importance? Let us know in the comments or on social media by tagging @miriamrosah and @nffaevp and using the hashtags #EmbracingComplexity and #FFA21.