Deb Sofield


Great Things Are Done by a Series of Small Things

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Today I want to encourage you to keep on keeping on, and my theme is a quote that is new to me; it’s by the famous artist, Vincent Van Gogh.

He says that “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” I love that line, because it is so true.

I know that sometimes it feels like you are spinning your wheels when you are trying to create an opportunity for yourself or others, or you sometimes feel alone as you’re building a business or as you do the daily work of the job and responsibilities that you have, but, friend, don’t get discouraged, because great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

If you’ll keep doing your small part, I know that, in time, you will be able to see how your piece of the puzzle fits into the whole of the beautiful picture that you’ve been admiring for years. The key to success is being able to hold on through the good times and the not so good times.

I am sure that if you looked back over your life, some of the things you did on a whim with friends or by yourself (such as that odd job or the not-so-important-at-the-time-project that caught your interest) gave you a little bit of experience; now you can see where that bit of knowledge you gained has played a role in your life, sometimes big and sometimes small. Just the fact that you were able to put into action a skill learned long ago is testament to the depth of today’s quote that rings true on so many levels.

I can look back in my own life to some of the crazy ideas I had (and still have) that have brought me joy and surprise and sometimes a bit of cash, simply because I took a chance and made a way when no one else cared or could even see the path.

A while back I was asked to submit a resume for an opportunity I was applying for. I’ve got to say that I had not looked at my resume in years and was taken aback at seeing that I have done so many different things, from when I first wrote on that old fancy stationary to now with my online vita. In the lifetime journey of many miles, I could see where my edges have been sharpened, or in some cases softened, by the jobs I had in my service to others.

I want to encourage you to continue to grow in your life, so allow me to suggest a few ideas that I believe will help you on your path to doing great things.

One of the most important things that you can do on the path to great success is to make the most of what is in front of you. There is a famous line that states that good things come to those who wait; it is a reminder that having patience is a virtue and while that is admirable for some, it doesn’t really work for most of us, because from what I have seen, opportunity doesn’t come to those who wait but to those who step forward and grab hold of the chance to change their lives, make a difference or help others.

Opportunity is an action word in my book, and, as a journeyman, I will seek openings until my last day to find what is waiting just beyond the bend, partly because I am curious and partly because I’m determined to find my light and stand in its rays and shine.

We all have our calling, but it’s up to us to hear the music and lead the band. As a child, I learned an old hymn about not hiding my light under a bushel but allowing it to shine. So I’ll take that thought and place it into my world of business and politics and training, and, by doing a series of small thing successfully, I will use the shining light to see and to make the most of what is in front of me, because I believe that opportunity doesn’t stand around waiting to be found–it’s constantly moving–and our job is to grab hold of the prospect and hang on until the ride is over.

Something else we can do on the path to great success is to surround ourselves with two types of people: those who are like-minded and those who are completely different. Hear me out. We should all consider having a few friends who are so dissimilar to us so we can see life from a different perspective. They may never provide an opportunity we would dare to take, but perhaps from the new viewpoint we can see new opportunities we’ve never seen before. I imagine it is a reflection of the thought for the day, because with this new view we have every opportunity to construct a series of small things for a new creation, and who knows what successful venture could arise from the connection…or confusion.

We all like to hang out in our own network–it’s comfortable with our friends–but since we’ve been together so long, I am not sure that we really listen when they have a new perspective, because everything they do is so similar to what we would do. Many times I think we’ve grown soft in our level of comfort instead of being prepared for what could come next. Good friends are a blessing, and keeping them should be a priority, partly because you know what to expect, and, most importantly, because they are worth it. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said of old friends, “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” I’ll simply say thank you and amen to that.

My last thought on important things that you can do on the path to great success is to remember that life is short, happiness is a choice and everyone you meet is afraid of something. Okay, I lumped a few together, but it makes sense to me.

Friends, every winter that passes and every new unfurling leaf of spring is a reminder that life is short–wonderful, but short–and when you think about all the small things that you’ve done in your years that when brought together have created your life, I’m trusting that you can look back and see the well-worn path that you have walked successfully.

Don’t let regret consume your last days. Learn to live in the light and joy of who you really are and what you’ve finally become, assuming you’ve grown into the person you wanted to be. And if you’ve not completed your journey to your true self, keep walking while there is still light.

I have always believed that happiness is a choice and that you’ve got to choose wisely if you want to celebrate joy in your life. No one can do that for you–it is an action you must take to fill your happiness bucket.

I like to people-watch and look closely at their eyes and the lines on their face to see if they have smile lines or lines of pain. I’ve been doing this for so long that I can quickly see someone’s world on their face, and for me it’s always a look of four emotions: joy, sadness, happiness or fear.

You see it in their quick glances and where they focus–straight ahead, to the side, up or down. The body gives out a lot of information if you know what to look for, and the thing I look for is happiness or fear, and that knowledge will give me the opportunity to josh and engage with a fellow traveler about the hassles of travel and lost luggage or find a way to give a word of comfort or encouragement in the cryptic small talk I try to engage them in while standing in line. Whoever said that the “eyes are a window to the world” is correct–you can see a lot when you really look.

So I come back to my theme for the day that great things are done by a series of small things brought together. Whether it is a kind word to a stranger, a comforting hand to one who is afraid or engaging with a new friend completely different than you, together you can learn and explore and perhaps find a new path to success…or simply be reminded that our days are numbered and we ought to consider making happiness for ourselves and others a priority in our lives. Because, once we see the connection of all the small pieces of our lives, I believe we will be absolutely astounded by the beauty of the mosaic that our lives have created.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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