That’s what he said, my wise, 82 year old friend, as he entered the gym one day. He called out as he walked in saying,
“Paul, young man, be careful of the little mosquitoes. They bite. Elephants don’t!”
My dear departed good friend, I introduced in my previous blog (God bless his soul), had a very unique way of getting your interest and focus from the way he phrased his sentences. He got you exercising the most powerful tool we have: OUR MIND.
He got your neurons firing … your brain cells working … basically, got you THINKING. I love that, and that’s one of the reasons I loved him.
“What are you talking about … what do you mean?”
“Well,” he said, “take care of the little mosquitoes, the little things in life, the little habits, the small gestures, like a smile … because if you don’t take care of these little mosquitoes their bite can cause huge problems, like dengue fever or malaria. Many people put all their energies in to searching for and pursuing the ‘Elephants’ or the well-marketed, big things in life like money, career success, buying their ideal car or house, travel etc. Whilst these are all important, the pursuit comes at the expense of their health and their relationships”.
Wise man, he was.
Most of you are probably practicing elements of this little, but powerful message already, in your DAILY HABITS. Yes, that’s right, through your daily habits. These represent the ‘little mosquitoes’ in your life. Let’s put this in perspective: Say, you had a goal to lose weight, say 10kg in 3 months. Whilst the physical reduction in weight is celebrated, acknowledged and praised by family and friends, the real miracles occur in the application of your daily habits. Specifically, in the CONSISTENT and PERSISTENT application of KEY DAILY HABITS that are aligned with your GOAL.
In my body re-engineering programs, that I’ve helped hundreds of people with, I get them to FOCUS on performing 5 or 6 KEY ACTIONS every day (that become habits). That’s all they have to do. I remind them that the final tangible result (10kg lighter and healthier and fitter) is the compound effect of execution of these identified personal mosquitoes or daily habits. My clients maintain, what I call a weekly routine register, on which I have listed these 5 or 6 habits. Each day they place ‘1’ in the box if they have done it or place ‘0’ in the box if they have not. There should be a total numerical target of ‘7’ for the week for each habit and, if there isn’t, they need to provide a valid explanation. Personal governance, in relation to their goal is exercised here, reflected through ‘self-regulating behaviour’ through the execution of these mosquitoes or habits. They take charge of the process and more importantly, become accountable. Studies show that efforts directed toward establishing self control of the new behaviours are essential to success.
Clients that achieve the best results tend to be very diligent in maintaining their daily routine registers. As a project management tool, the register is very useful. It allows my client and I to make weekly reviews and make necessary changes in a timely fashion. The other management principle in use here is “If you cannot measure something. You cannot manage it”. Measure it, we will.
Try this; Look at the key areas in your life, it doesn’t have to be physical fitness … it may be managing relationships; financial goals; emotional growth; career progression etc. Choose one area. Now, think carefully. Ask yourself what 5 or 6 KEY ACTIONS you need to take, DAILY, that would get you up to 80% or substantially completed before that area of your life, becomes too risky and overwhelms you and becomes a big and costlier problem.
A little mosquito or action that my wife and I practice to help is simply making each other a little cup of tea or coffee almost every day (she just brought me second one). It may be small thing, like a mosquito, but I think very important. Someone once told me that it’s the little things in life that matter. Whilst big, grand gestures aren’t bad, don’t get caught up in the big, over-the-top gestures that you see in Hollywood movies (the elephants). Focus on the mosquitoes.