Actually, You Do Need to Sweat the Small Stuff

I came across a great quote from Dale Carnegie the other day.

“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves. ”

I was so taken with its common sense advice I decided to do a blog post about it.

When you come right down to it, there is no small stuff.  Everything you do, every job you are assigned  — no matter how mundane — is an opportunity to show that you care and that you are willing to do you very best.

A couple of weeks ago I read an interview in the New York Times with Michelle Munson, CEO of Aspera.  Her message?  “Respect the opportunity.”  She put it this way, “To me, respecting an opportunity means embracing it and dedicating yourself to making the most of it.  I am infuriated by people who waste the opportunity.”  In other words, do your best on everything you do.  Because everything you do is an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and abilities.

Daniel Adkison, a Editor for the Business Section of the New York Times (my reading habits are showing here) tells the story of his first job — at a Pizza Hut where he spent his first several weeks doing dishes.  He hated it — and he let everyone know how much he hated it.  One day his boss said, “Do you know why you’re still doing dishes?  Because you keep complaining about it.”

In other words, Daniel wasn’t embracing the opportunity of doing dishes.  When he stopped complaining and committed himself to doing a good job on the dishes, he got promoted to the Make Table.  He got to assemble the pizzas before they went into the oven.  It may seem like this isn’t much of a promotion, but to Daniel it was everything.  He got out from under doing a job that he hated by embracing the job and doing it really well.

He says, “washing dishes was grueling, greasy work.  But then again, making a pizza, driving a truck, baking a cake, or any of countless other jobs are not always enjoyable in themselves either.  Out of all the lessons I learned at Pizza Hut, maybe the biggest is that any job can be the best job.”  Or, as Michelle Munson would say — any job can be the best job if you respect and embrace the opportunity.

The next time you are assigned an unpleasant task — no matter how small or seemingly unimportant — embrace it.  Do it as well as you possibly can.  Sweat the small stuff and the big stuff will take care of itself.

Your career mentor,


PS: You can download a free copy of my bestseller, Climbing the Corporate Ladder at  When you do, I’ll begin sending you daily motivational quotes and give you a free basic membership in my career mentoring site.

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