When I was a small boy my dad insisted I make my bed every morning before heading off to school. While I never truly mastered it, he tried to show me how to make a bed according to military standards as he had served in the 1st Army in WWII. Although I don’t remember his exact words, he said something to me like, “How you start your day sets the tone for the entire day.”
I was thinking about this recently as I was working out at Crossfit in Aspen. On the walls of the gym are a variety of inspirational quotes. One in particular that grabbed my attention says, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” When I first saw these words, I realized that this is what my dad was trying to say to me so long ago. His point, in essence, was, “Robert how you make your bed reflects how you will approach whatever comes before you in the coming day.”
Indeed, how we do anything is how we do everything. My dad wanted me to understand that if I was sloppy in making my bed, I likely be sloppy in doing other things. Although I am imperfect in living out this truth, I have come to learn that how I approach the small things in life affects how I do the big things that come across my plate. I wonder if, in part, this was what Jesus was getting at when he said, “Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful also in much.” How we do anything is how we do everything.
As I think about it, I think this truth applies to most things, not only work, but to play, leisure, time off, and even prayer. And I believe this truth actually can help each of us in caring for ourselves. If, for example, I am focused at work and avoid interruptions to that work, shouldn’t the same apply to time off and the space we create for disconnecting. If I am attentive to details when completing a task, could I not pay this same level of attention to things that bring me joy?
Sometimes I am afraid we put more effort into doing the big things we “have” to do than we put into the little ways we care for ourselves, our relationships, and our time with God. Perhaps the phrase, how we do anything is how we do everything, is an invitation not to learn to work harder, but to pay equal attention to all the areas in life that are not task oriented.
This in fact could mean that how well I can relax is how well I will work, how well I play is how well I will get things done, how well I enjoy is how well I will deal with the opposite feelings, and how well I care for myself is how well I will care for others, and there are countless other examples.
I invite you to join me in pondering, “how we do anything is how we do everything,” and prayerfully to discern what God might be saying to us through these words. My hunch is that for some of us, it could be a game changer, even if we struggle with making our beds to military standards.