Where have all the spoons gone?” asked my wife. I replied, “Good question. I have no idea!” I felt like I should have known the answer. Truthfully, I hadn’t really noticed we were missing any spoons. When I look in the drawer and find a spoon, I don’t notice (and probably don’t care) that our inventory of flatware is low. I’m just happy that a spoon, a fork or a knife is available when I need it.
One evening when I emptied the dishwasher, I understood clearly what she meant. There was a significant imbalance in our collection of cutlery. Forks, knives, and table spoons badly out numbered our tea spoons by noticeable amounts. There was a mystery to be solved and this silverware sleuth was going to get to the bottom of it.
Whenever something is missing or out of place at home, (like my charger for my phone), I go and speak with our three kids to see what they know. “Hey kids! Do any of you know where all the spoons have gone?” I asked. “Good question Dad! We have no idea!” they all replied. Ok that was helpful! Really? Nobody knows the whereabouts of all these missing spoons? Nope! Alright then. The next logical step was to replace them. And that’s exactly what my wife did. That’s the end of the story right? But wait! There’s more.
A few weeks go by and I had forgotten about the missing spoons. It’s morning, a school day, and I’m helping prepare lunches for the kids. Our kids normally leave their lunch bags in the kitchen the night before so we can quickly pack lunches in the morning. One of our kids had neglected to bring her lunch bag to the kitchen. I stepped silently into her room this early morning (she was still asleep) and reached into her backpack for her lunch bag. My hand touched something that felt like cool metal and I heard a clanging noise, very similar to the sound spoons make when you put them away together in the cutlery drawer! Sure enough, there was a spoon in the bottom of her backpack. But not just one spoon. I reached in again and pulled out another, and another. 17 spoons in total were retrieved that morning! The missing spoon mystery was solved. But wait! There’s more.
Why were there 17 spoons in the bottom of my daughter’s backpack? There’s a simple explanation. She had formed a habit. When she finished eating her lunch at school, she would toss the spoon in her backpack instead of putting it back in her lunch bag. A simple action repeated at least 17 times became a normal thing. She didn’t see it as a problem because a new spoon would be provided the next day in her lunch bag.
This experience provided the platform for a fantastic discussion on consistency, momentum, discipline and habits. The importance of doing the simple things well, with excellence, was also a major theme. We laughed about it and she also recognized and acknowledged that this was not her best moment. And that’s ok. Life is a never ending character building journey and class is always in session. I reinforced with her that when we do the small things with excellence and consistency, we form positive powerful habits that equip us to handle the bigger tasks and challenges in life.
"Small disciplines repeated with
In John Maxwell’s book, ‘The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth”, he writes about law # 5, the Law of Consistency. John writes that, “Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.” It’s the simple things we do everyday, the positive habits and disciplines that have become natural for us that keep us growing, contributing and adding value to people. Is it easy to break a bad habit or routine? No it’s not. Is it possible? You bet it is and it’s so worth it!
So my encouragement to you this week is to think about one area of your life where you would like to be more disciplined. Have the courage to ask yourself the tough questions. What would it take for you to change or adjust a simple action or behaviour in this area of your life? What would be the value for you and others if you were more disciplined in this area of your life? What are the powerful reasons why you want to be more disciplined in this area? You can do it if you want to do it. But wait! There’s more.
In case any of you are wondering who cleaned the spoons, she did. By hand. We now have more spoons than we need and her backpack is much lighter.
Keep learning and leading!
Thanks for reading! People often ask me “What do you do?”. The simple answer is “I make leaders better!” I do this through leadership coaching, emotional intelligence coaching, seminars, key note talks and mastermind groups.
My purpose is to help grow the leadership influence and effectiveness of people to enable them to produce better results, build trusting relationships, and foster an engaging healthy work environment where people are excited and empowered to do their best work.
I believe our workplaces can be transformed by better leadership. I founded Changing Leaf Inc. to help organizations and individuals realize their potential by developing leaders who create confidence and inspire trust.
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