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Little steps, bigger goals

Huzaima Bukhari

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little”―Edmund Burke

The universe is a huge complex machine with the suns, stars, planets and living beings comprising its essential components and parts. Although this seems quite an odd simile but the fact is that with even the most minor of parts missing, a machine may not work at all or may malfunction or may even collapse after a few operations. This means that every single bit has a role to play in its working at the optimum level. Even the nuts and bolts, if rusted or worn out need to be changed occasionally for smooth running what to talk of the major elements proving how essential these are.

Each one of us human being is also a cog in this large set-up with our own individual role to play yet many of us, by underestimating ourselves, consider our lives as useless and worthless. Conversely, there are some who think that without them the world would fall apart and with their over-confident attitude, impose their dictates on others. They act like bullies at times, looking down upon others’ efforts, however great and play up their own, however small. The balance between modesty and arrogance is important to be maintained otherwise the scales, if tilted on either side can truly cause perennial destruction.

The best place reflective of where little steps have a predominant role to play is an organization with a vast hierarchical structure. The ones at the top echelon seem to be taking groundbreaking decisions and appear in complete control of management but not without the input of the second tier working immediately below them whose contribution is vital in examining all the necessary details. These are assisted by the third and fourth tier staff members whose work is facilitated by the lowest level of employees working towards maintenance of the office environment. Due to the collective effort of the entire workforce in the hierarchy, there is smooth functioning and prosperity for one and all. The ones at the top are successful because the ones at the lowest rung are performing their duties well and these must be thanked often to keep them going.

For example if the janitor failed to keep the offices clean because of which the rider fell ill and did not deliver groceries so the kitchen staff faltered in its duty to provide the employees with timely refreshments consequent to which the tired and famished assistants were unable to collect relevant data on account of which the officers did not meet deadlines so the executive staff had to cut a sorry picture before the Board making it lose a crucial financial opportunity that would have doubled the turnover of the company and would have given everyone substantial increase in terms of bonuses and salaries.

Even in our everyday lives, we hear women at home complaining about the trivial nature of their housekeeping work and find them envying their on-job sisters engaged in lucrative employments or running own businesses. They feel sullen and unimportant sometimes inflicted with inferiority complex and occasionally drifting into depression, needing psychiatric attention. There is a need for them to understand that their work is by no means futile. Their close family members bringing home the bacon are obligated to appreciate their contribution in their lives. Without the support of a comfortable, clean home, laundered garments and hot meals readily available after a tiring day out, it would be interesting to check their performance at their workplace. The East is fortunate to have a culture where majority of the female population is home based taking care of the domestic knickknacks while their men folk go out to earn a livelihood.

By no stretch of imagination should these women feel dejected about their lives or pettiness of their labour. Their little steps cannot be ignored in the achievements of their fathers, husbands, brothers and children. Unfortunately, when haughtiness takes over the earning hands and women at home are depicted as mean, dispensable and useless objects, is when the need arises to knock some sense in the minds of the presumptuous while simultaneously advising the glum to re-evaluate themselves.

Another category of the disappointed lot is the highly ambitious whose aims are not immediately achieved. They may lose their self-esteem in the event of failure or slow progress in reaching their goals. For them it is suggested that instead of putting their entire fortune at stake and taking major risks, they should start off with smaller steps gradually making their way up. There are very rare cases of overnight success and those who appear rich and famous have a long history of struggle behind them. The best thing is to write down the goal and focus attention around it. The moment one’s aspirations are clearly in sight, the paths leading towards it also become illuminated. The processes maybe long, difficult and demanding but once the objective is chalked out, the results are always enduring. There should also be a second goal in reserve to fall back on in case of disappointment.

One should not forget that huge architectural splendours are observable because of all the little bricks and stones that were laid out by labourers who used their hands step by step to create complexes viewed with admiration by onlookers. Large enterprises, businesses, educational institutes, scientific inventions and discoveries were made possible by attention to details. These huge ventures become reality because someone had a big dream but knew how to attend to little things calling for minutest of information. High achievers, leaders and go-getters are those passionate persons who are able to perceive beyond their ambitions, the larger participation of the minor work being done and in their appreciation of the doers.


The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

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