Lasting Impacts of Small, Important Investments
Little actions today may make a difference later
On my home office desk, I have a box that doubles as a monitor stand. Inside the box I keep my regular office supplies.
When I needed a paperclip recently, I had the chance to reflect on these supplies. Many of the items in the box were part of a high school graduation gift from a family member.
As a 17 year old high school graduate, I found the gift of a lovely assortment of office supplies - including things like crayons and colored pencils - a little interesting. The assortment had the charming appearance of walking down the office supply aisle and grabbing one of everything. The binder clips, sticky notes, highlighters, and those sorts of items I understood. They seemed useful. The crayons and colored pencils appeared a bit less so. They sort of made sense in the context of her career as a preschool teacher.
Overall, I was unsure how it would fit into what I would do. Everything I do seems to be on the computer. For someone who rarely does anything with office supplies, it has lasted for many, many years through my undergraduate education, graduate school, and another six years since then.
Sadly, the gift giver passed away a few years after my high school graduation.
This gift made a lasting impact. Not just in time, but in substance and content. I interact with it tangibly and frequently. This gift also was an important lesson. It was a collection of office supplies that I did not know how much I really needed… but not in the way those gifts usually work. Those gifts are usually people thinking they know better and just giving something they would want. This gift was a collection of simple little things that I needed and that I regularly use to this day.
Good or not, the work we do today may make a lasting impact. Perhaps this should have been a post about gardening. Planting seeds works well for this comparison also. Perhaps if I can ever grow a garden, or even a plant, that may be able to serve as a cute little anecdote someday. Many small, incremental changes can make a significant impact.
The little steps taken today to increase belonging and to create a culture of care may see impacts now or years into the future. Maybe these are words or actions. They might be new initiatives or programs. Perhaps these little actions are gifting school supplies. Whatever it may be, starting something small may have lasting, unforeseen results.
I know I will think about the gift giver and the lasting impacts of small things every time I use my office supplies. I bet many of these supplies will last quite a few years yet.