Harry Smith

How You Do Everything

Maintain quality in everything, or you'll have no quality at all. Do the mundane with care, and you'll do the important even better.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

I couldn’t find the original source of this phrase. Simon Sinek attributes it to zen buddhism. Ryan Holiday uses it without attribution. The popularity of the phrase comes from its truth. How you do anything is how you do everything.

Life comprises of small steps. We either step towards our goals, or away from them. The first few steps of the day set the path for the rest of it. Each action acts as a priming function for the next. If you aren’t paying close attention, you might not know where you are walking towards at all. To get the most out of the day, place each step with care.

‘How you do anything is how you do everything.’ reminds us that every step on the path is important. Each step requires care, even the mundane ones.

Each morning our motivation and intention is clear. Though by lunch, little missteps have diffused our good intentions. Our attention feels drawn to our vices. It’s picking apart at the seams of our resolve. Another day has drifted by, almost without notice. We rush through tasks, leaving them half done. In the place of optimism there is now guilt. How did the day slip away again?!

We each have a personal level of quality. It represents the least we will accept from ourselves. When we accept anything less, two things happen. One, we take a big step away from our goals. Two, that quality level drops by a small amount.

It lowers our expectation of ourselves. Our dreams become smaller. Our actions less positive. Our time unfocused.

There is a name for your personal level of quality; taste. Having good taste means that you set that level high, only allowing the best of your work.

You develop good taste by exceeding your standard of quality. Forcing that expectation of yourself higher each time. Quality is a muscle. Like a muscle, it is always deteriorating.

Every action we take has the potential to improve all further actions. All it requires is that we exceed our previous standards in all the small moments of life. Every moment is an opportunity to excel. A chance to ward off the decline.

Fold your clothes. Clean the windows. Pick up litter. Cook well. Tidy the drawers. Do the laundry. Fix the broken door handle. Hang the towel up. Clean the sink. Water the plants. Brush your hair. Do it all with confidence. Do it all with energy. Pick up dog shit like your life depends on it.

Small steps determine the trajectory of progress.

Do all the little things to the best of your abilities.

And you’ll do all the big things even better.

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