This quote has stuck with me throughout my life and deeply resonated the first time I heard it about ten years ago. It’s one of those phrases which immediately demands deeper reflection, because it is at once open to numerous interpretations while also being incredibly simple.
Before reading any further, ask yourself a few questions about your reaction to this quote:
- What did it make you feel? Specifically, what core emotion came up for you (describe it in one word)?
- What did it mean to you when you first read it?
From experience, I've found that whenever I tell my clients this quote, they are almost always drawn towards more searching and profound questions about their lives, such as: how well are you aligned with your values and your true self (or not)? Are you proud of what you have achieved so far in your life?
This is one of those quotes which tends to polarise people and get a marmite reaction, but your reaction is always reflective of something deeper, something that you perhaps aren't quite ready to admit to yourself.
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
'How you do anything is how you do everything' is like a mirror; if you don’t like what it means to you, in my experience this is because it is showing you what you don’t like about yourself and therefore giving you an opportunity to do something about it. It’s the same principle that I apply to relationships and how you judge others. Your judgement of someone else is a mirror showing you what you probably don’t like about yourself, or rather what you want to be like, if your reaction derives from a feeling of envy.
I thought it might be helpful if I shared what this quote means to me and why it has become my mantra in my life.
Life is all about doing the little things well, consistently.
The little things are so important because, in truth, our day-to-day lives are an expression of the minutiae of which they are made up. We can't expect every day to be defined by big decisions, transformational life changes and major events. We live on a small scale, caught up in our lunch breaks, work meetings and fleeting conversations with those around us.
'I have measured out my life with coffee spoons' - T.S. Eliot
Take a moment to reflect on how you do the little things every day, because our overarching feelings - the feelings which surface in those still moments without distraction - are a reflection of the little things which make up our days and months and years.
- How do you do your chores in the house? Do you do them without any need for validation and gratitude or do you expect something in return? Do you do them mindfully or in a rush? Do you do them habitually without prompting or do you wait to be asked?
- Do you often embellish the truth and dress it up or do you say it how it is?
Life is all about nurturing and fostering good relationships and loving connections with each other
Everything in life is about cause and effect, and ultimately the quality of our lives will hugely depend on the quality of our relationships, starting with the relationship we have with ourselves. Take a moment to ponder this and consider this question:
‘If your friends spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, how long would they be your friends for?’
Far too often, we disregard clichés (like the above) because they have become so overused that we lose all sense of their original meaning; indeed, this is what a cliché is! But overlooking clichés has become a coping mechanism, a means of avoiding reality, because at the heart of all clichés there is an undeniable truth, something which cuts to the heart of life and which needs to be considered deeply. So before you pass over the quote above and carry on reading, read it again, have a second look...
We are often our harshest critics and highly judgmental about our own perceived flaws and failings. And the chances are that this behaviour will translate across to your relationships with others, where you are equally likely to be highly judgmental, even if it’s done passive aggressively!
In this vein, consider your relationships more widely. How you treat the waiter in a restaurant, the postman or the CEO of a big company, a potential client or the office cleaner, speaks volumes about your values and your moral compass.
Do you treat people differently because of their status in life, the size of their bank account or what you might want to get from them? Or, do you treat everyone in the same manner, no matter what, without exception?
Everything is connected
It is often tempting to look at things that are not working as planned in isolation, and to seek a cure for the symptoms we are experiencing on this basis. However, this approach rarely works in practice, because everything is connected and can be traced back to a root cause, an underlying, usually hidden source. How we do anything always connects back to how we do everything…
Take a moment to reflect on these questions:
- Are there patterns in your life where you just keep repeating the same behaviour time and again and then wondering why this happens?
As human beings with a survival bias we all carry with us a set of limiting beliefs which manifest in our everyday lives in the form of deeply entrenched, often automatic reactions to particular stimuli and interactions. These patterns have no respect for boundaries and they will consistently show up everywhere in our lives!
- Do you speak your truth even when it feels uncomfortable?
- Do you tend to put yourself first and always seek to get what you want before thinking about others?
- How good are you at asking for help, even for little things like stopping someone to ask for directions? This will undoubtedly translate into your ability and desire to seek help for much bigger issues in life too.
- Do you start your days applying self-discipline and structure, taking time for yourself, exercising, meditating, making your own bed?
As you'll come to find out if you join my Online Academy or pursue some 1:1 coaching with me, I like to end my sessions with a few questions to reflect on what we've talked about, but also to look ahead to the changes you are going to implement in your life. So, here you go:
- 1. Do you like where you are in your life right now and how would you score it out of 10?
- 2. What would need to change to make your score a 10?
- 3. How can applying some of the insights above help when you reflect more deeply on 'How you do anything, is how you do everything'?