ALL THE LITTLES...
When we moved into our old farm house in Connecticut, there were some lovely trees (some over a hundred years old...) but nothing that one would call "landscaping." Like, no bushes, no flowers, no fruit trees, no plants, no color, actually. It wasn't totally bleak but close. I wasn't looking for an overly manicured lawn - that wouldn't have been in keeping with the appealing "roughness" of the house - but I did want to create an environment that was simple, lovely and inviting - something that made us feel good every time we got out of the car and opened our gate. So I called a landscaping professional who came highly recommended as "a sensitive guy who would respect the land for what it was and not try to make it into something it wasn't." His name was Jim Law. I liked him enormously the moment I met him. I knew he "got it" about what we envisioned...and I was right. But I never expected that he'd teach me two simple "life lessons" that, twenty-five years later, I'd still treasure.
Lesson #1: Jim drew (and painted) a beautiful plan that included almost the entire property. I loved it. "But we can't do all that right now," I said, "it isn't in our budget." "Of course not," he said, "But it's important to have a vision for what it will look like when it all comes together, then we can build towards it, bit by bit, over time. Otherwise, we'll risk adding things haphazardly - and make a 'mish-mash' of it rather than a beautiful whole where everything plays off everything else."
"Bit by bit," I thought. "A vision.." There are few - to no - times in most of our lives when we get to have the full monty all at once - in our lawns, in our closets, in our uh, "portfolios," in our jobs...in our lives. And that's okay...If we keep the vision in mind and build to it bit by bit. Then we can end up with something not ragged, but wonderful.
Lesson #2: One of Jim's clients was a well-known billionaire. I didn't know that until he mentioned that there were some "old" plants that this man didn't want that would look great on our lawn. "Wait," I said, that guy is one of your clients? Are you kidding? What are you doing bothering with a little job like ours?!!" "Well," he said, I learned a long time ago that it's all about the 'littles.' It's about all the small jobs; they're the ones that pay the bills, that add up, that can keep you going. You're just as important to me as Mr. Big. If he moves away or finds someone else, and I do my job right, I'll still have you - and all my other small clients. If I get enough 'littles,' I'll be okay - with or without the big guys. Get it?"
I got it. "All the littles." I've tried to adhere to that tenet in my own business. Of course, there's a thrill to it when you reel in the "big" one." And there's a terror to it when they disappear. Hey, budgets are cut. It happens. But if you've followed Jim Law's advice you might take a hit but you'll be okay. I'm frequently asked, "Hey, Gail, do you still take individual, private clients?" And I respond, "You bet I do!" And I do. And... I take good care of them.
Take a look at your "littles" - not just in your work but in your life. They're what add up, too. They're what will be there for you when the "bigs" are few and far between. What about the little delights? You know, those small moments when someone says, apropos of nothing, "I really love you, ya know it?" Or what about the little gestures - the silent toast from across the room. Or the small gifts - the single flower...for no particular reason. In a funny way all those “littles" can - bit by bit - add up to more than the big ring, the new car or the dream house. And they last a really long time. Take good care of them...
Gail Blanke’s Lifedesigns©2013 All Rights Reserved
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