I’ve mentioned before that I am a sucker for self-improvement books. Currently on my bookshelf are; ‘GRIT - Why Passion and Resilience are the Secret to Success’ and ‘Peak - How All of Us Can Achieve Extraordinary Things’. I’m not entirely sure why I enjoy these books so much but it often surprises me how often they can be contradictory in their advice. Whilst travelling recently I noticed a book on the airport bookshop shelf titled; ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff) - Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Overtaking Your Life’. It’s sold 25 million copies and yet, though it is clear in its message and took 175 pages to reinforce it, I couldn’t help the niggling feeling that I just couldn’t agree with it.
My Grandmother (Molly) had a wealth of proverbs to help keep life moving in the right direction. One of her favourites was, “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”...in other words, sweat the small stuff. Indeed, Coach John Wooden also took this view “It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen”. And the more that I ponder this the more that I am inclined to take the latter view. When dealing with children it is particularly true. The small things, the details, those aspects of life which seem inconsequential to us grown ups are often the things that matter most to the young ones. I tend not to mind what colour of pencil I write with or what colour of rubber I use, however, the same can’t be said of your average Form 1 pupil...these things matter!
And why ponder all this?
Well, it’s a reminder to us all I suppose to spare the time to consider the importance of the small details in our lives. What impact will seemingly small and inconsequential decisions that we make have upon others?
I was reminded of this recently when a young pupil had been left off the invite list for a birthday party. Now I don’t take offence if I am not invited to a particular party, however, for the young ones in our community, this sort of thing matters hugely. The child in question was devastated and sleepless nights were the result. Whilst I fully understand that it may be neither practical nor desirable to invite a whole class (or a whole year) to a party, inviting ALL the boys in a set (or all the girls) BUT ONE can be harmful to the self-esteem of the young person left out. I do know that the sense of exclusion of such an omission is felt far more deeply and for far longer than we imagine by 'the non invited child'. Even if he/she does not express it directly, such an omission can damage the sense of wellbeing of a child even if his/her parents have dealt with it as pragmatically as possible.
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it is clear to me that we all have a role to play in looking after the wellbeing of each and every children in our precious Craigclowan Community.
Please join me in sweating the small stuff…
John F Gilmour