Lessons Learned from Vacuuming

I have always liked vacuuming. It’s not hard to do, and you can retreat a bit into your own world while the hum of the machine tunes out all distractions.  The other day, I decided to go down to a local charity and help out by cleaning it.   They rely on volunteer labor to get things done, and I figured there was no better way to spend an hour on a Saturday morning than by helping someone else out.

As luck would have it, one of the tasks that they needed help with was vacuuming the majority of their building.  And, they have one of those big Zamboni style industrial vacuuming machines.   This wasn’t work, this was fun!

As I worked my way through their rooms and hallways, I practically forgot that this was anything remotely related to work and fell into the mental zone that occurs between the roar of the 5 horsepower machine and the empty long hallways that allow your mind to wander.  As I neared the end of an area, I noticed a tiny bit of white paper, perhaps a quarter of the size of my pinky nail that stubbornly refused to release its hold on the wall and enter the abyss of the vacuum.

I ran the four foot wide vacuum back and forth against the wall, trying to vacuum it up without having to actually bend over and pick it up with my hands.  30 seconds passed, and to no avail.  I actually debated leaving the paper on the floor and moving on.  After all, who would notice it, and I was doing volunteer work, right?

Fortunately, I quickly came to my senses and bent down to pick up the paper.  I had said I would do the job, and volunteer or not, it made a difference.  What if everyone who vacuumed there left the tiniest bits of paper on the floor?  Soon, it would add up and the hallway would be littered from miniscule trash, which, when there is enough, you can plainly see.

Business is a lot like vacuuming.  There are long stretches of work, where it may be just you and the job.  There are tiny parts that you can leave undone, especially if no one is looking or if you think they aren’t important enough.

However, you can tell which companies care about the little things, and you can definitely tell which employees take the time to ‘pick up the tiniest piece of trash’.

Thanks for reading,




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