My old store manager, Ken, lived by his ‘philosophies’ - ”A man’s gotta have philosophies, Matt. What are your philosophies?” - and when I would arrive for the evening duty manager shift at 4pm, he’d always take 30 minutes to walk me around the store, ostensibly to handover the store and highlight any issues for the night, but really to pass down another piece of his collected wisdom as we made our way out the Receiving dock roller-door for his 4:15 smoke break.
“Look after your good people”, he’d say, squinting one eye as he drew back on his cigarette, before explaining that spending time on the ‘bad’ people was always futile and would inevitably cause the good people to suffer through neglect. Or, “If you can’t find the time to do something properly now, when you will find the time to re-do it later?”. Or, “When you have to deliver criticism, sure, use the sandwich technique [say something positive, then the criticism, then something positive to close] but make sure the meat is always thicker than the bread!”
Anyway, his biggest personal mantra was this; that you must fix one thing every day. One. Every. It didn’t matter what, it didn’t matter how big or small, it just mattered that something was measurably better at the end of the day than it was at the start. Fix that headlight, organise those files, sand that door that’s always sticking, apologise to that friend, rotate the tyres on your wife’s car, make that embarrassing doctor’s appointment, etc etc etc.
It’s the simplest advice. It’s too simple and totally obvious. It’s not even worth saying, right? Derrrrr - who doesn’t always try to fix one thing every day? Well, me actually. I’m always busy at work, but that’s not the same. I’m
always usually productive at work, but that’s not quite it, either. I forget this “obvious” principle all the time. But the days when I decide to deliberately fix/correct/improve one thing are the days that… I do. And they’re - sure enough - the days I tend to feel best. And when I do remember to be mindful enough to identify that one, potentially-small thing that I can correct each day, pretty soon I’m surrounded by 7 fixed things, then 30, then 365. Provided the kids haven’t un-fixed them again. I need to get this tattooed somewhere.
(Full disclosure: He’d also routinely steal part of a rotisserie chicken - usually the parson’s nose - as he’d pass by the deli counter, and would once per week walk straight from his car in the morning, through the front door, out the back to freezer room where he’d sit silently and motionless for half an hour nursing a massive VB hangover…so I guess you take the good life advice with the bad.)