Success Strategies - July - 2016

Minor Parts

It was just a flow control valve. Not really a major part. I’d put the car in gear to back out of my garage and it would slip — a delay — not every day, but often enough to make me worry about my newly rebuilt transmission.

I took it back to the shop twice to identify the problem, but none of the usual-suspect solutions seemed to make a lasting difference. After a week or two, there was the delay once again.

Sue didn’t always show up late for work, but she was late often enough that we knew she couldn’t be relied upon to be our “rock” who was always there. It was a minor issue. Her work was fine and everyone liked her, but still, she was often the last one to show up.

So the car wasn’t ready when you said it would be… twice. This isn’t rocket science and you can’t always accurately estimate the time or costs. Isn’t that just a minor issue?

How does that nursery rhyme go?

For want of a nail, the horseshoe was lost.
For want of a horseshoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the soldier was lost.
For want of a soldier, the battle was lost.
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

It was a minor thing… just a horseshoe nail. Or was it? Is there really a “minor” thing when it comes to running your business? After all, isn’t a lubricant just a lubricant, or does it really make a difference which fluid you use? Isn’t a gasket no big deal, or a gear, or… You can easily see where this is going. There are no minor parts; just small and large ones.

How important is the way you listen to customers as they explain their needs?

Is it really a big deal whether you encourage your new guy and remind him of how important it is for the parts to be clean? Does he understand why they need to be truly clean and not just mostly clean?

If it was just an innocent bookkeeping error and not some attempt to rip a person off, then what’s the big deal? I mean, hey, you said you were sorry. What more is needed?

If something’s late, at first there usually isn’t much of a problem. But the later it gets, the more severe the problem becomes. At what point are you becoming impatient by speaking up? Five minutes late… one day late… after the deadline? These are minor issues right? What’s the big deal?

The big deal is the little deal. It’s those items, actions, and issues that we trivialize in our minds that can occasionally become huge problems.

No matter where you look in your business, you’ll find small and large, long and short, black and white, soft and hard “parts.” But there are no minor parts. Every part matters in the bigger picture.

Professional speaker Joel Weldon once asked an audience, “How many of you have been bitten by a mosquito?” All hands went up. Then he asked, “Now, how many of you have ever been bitten by an elephant? Raise your hands if you still can.” Big laughter. He then observed, “That proves it. It’s the little things that get you!”

How about recalibrating your “big deal meter” to start seeing that everything matters a lot, sooner or later? When you realize that the Big Deal is the little things, then you’ll be more likely to handle each task and action with the care it deserves.

Jim Cathcart is the founder of and author of 18 books. He’s a strategic advisor for ATRA and a regular contributor to GEARS. For free access to short video messages from Jim, go to