Lennhart’s Law: Little Things Make the Biggest Difference

Leslie Yerkes Posted by Leslie Yerkes, President, Catalyst Consulting Group, Inc. .

Leslie Yerkes has been advancing the cause of positive organizational culture for over twenty years, ever since she started The Catalyst Consulting Group with a mission to do “consulting with a conscience.”


Lennhart’s Law: Little Things Make the Biggest Difference

In business, little things-the things we do hundreds of times a day-count as much or more than large ones-things that happen once a year or even once a lifetime. The difference you make every day is the sum total of your “little” choices. In the long run, it’s little things that make the lasting impressions and the most significant changes. Cumulatively, little things add up to create a large impact. A one-thousand-pound bomb can make a crater thirty feet across in an instant; water, one drip at a time over thousands of years, can create the Grand Canyon. In much the same way, taking care of the little things is one way to make a positive difference in the world.

Let me tell you a story.

I was late. I was loaded down with packages, traffic was insane, and it was threatening to rain. My hand was raised and waving in the International Hailing Signal but I couldn’t get a taxi to even slow down, much less stop. So I turned and started walking back to my hotel, packages banging off my legs.

Soon, I felt the first drop of rain and decided to give it one last, half-hearted wave. I got lucky. And Stockholm Taxi No. 7 got a passenger.

I speak virtually no Swedish so I asked the driver if he spoke English.

“Not well,” he said, “but enough.”

I asked if I could give him directions with my hands and he laughed. Then he turned to look at me, smiled, and said, “Jah!”

And so I did.

Between gestures, I asked him questions. I discovered my driver was retired from government service, was formerly in human resources, had a passion for good books, and that his name was Lennhart. I also asked Lennhart why he stopped to pick me up when no other taxi would.

“I cannot say why they did not stop for you. That is their business. But I stopped because you were getting wet and needed a ride. And that is what I do. I keep people dry and I take them places. It is not much but I try to do it well.”

Not only did Lennhart keep me dry and get me where I was going, but as we traveled and talked, he became my friend. He told me tales of Stockholm and his previous employment, and how his department should have read my book Fun Works.

Like water forming the Grand Canyon, Lennhart’s little thing of doing his job well keeps having its effect. Today when I travel to Stockholm, Lennhart is my personal chauffeur. And he is the first choice of many of my friends to whom I have given his name. His retirement business of being a cab driver is flourishing.

But Lennhart’s most important job is being a teacher. Every passenger who enters his taxi learns Lennhart’s Law: it’s the little things that make a difference. Here are the action steps of Lennhart’s Law that can make a big difference in your life, both personal and professional:

Tips

  1. Be polite: shake hands, look -em in the eye.
  2. Learn someone’s name and use it often.
  3. Ask more questions than you give answers.
  4. Respect everyone-even when they don’t deserve it.

Today, I make sure that I follow Lennhart’s Law every time I can. And Lennhart? Well, in his own way, the driver of Stockholm Taxi No 7 is making a difference and changing the world.

One passenger at a time.

Leslie Yerkes is an organizational development and change management consultant in Cleveland, OH and the owner of Catalyst Consulting Group, Inc. Beans: Four Principles for Running a Business in Good Times or Bad (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2003) is Leslie’s third book. Her previous books, Fun Works (Berrett-Koehler, 2001) and 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work (Berrett-Koehler, 1997) continue to be leading business sellers on Amazon.com. Contact Leslie Yerkes at 216-241-3939 or at [email protected] or www.changeisfun.com.