6 Ways to Not Sweat Petty Things

I’m sitting in the Vancouver airport, remembering the events of the weekend. My aunt passed away and the family came together to send her off. The weekend was filled with bittersweet moments. Like probably most other families, my family has all kinds of Jerry Springer as well. Yet oddly enough, reflecting about the events with my family, here are some gems and reminders that will add to your life and business.

1. Don’t Sweat Petty Things

I have an uncle who flew in from Hong Kong. He was just in Toronto the week before. Then he heard the news, and upon arriving back in Hong Kong, he turned his heels and booked another flight out to YVR to join the rest of us. $5000 CAD, for the 2 day trip. Here’s the thing. He didn’t hesitate. Do what’s important. It’s important to be with your family in times like this.



From a business point of view, we all have instances where a meeting doesn’t go our way, or people with whom we don’t agree. Petty. Stop being petty. In times like this I find it helpful to ask the following:

  1. How many babies are going to die because of this? (Likely the answer is 0. Maybe 1… but that’s probably in your head).
  2. In 100 years, will anyone care? If the answer is no, you’re golden. Don’t sweat it.

Your energy is better channeled to bring about something bigger, which leads me to my next point.


2. What you Focus on Expands

During one of the family lunches on Saturday, he made a comment that made me ponder thoughtfully (instead of shaking my head in disbelief.) Having spent years building his legal business in Hong Kong, he indicated that the people are noticeably different in Canada. He recounted a friend who told him that he would habitually rearrange his route such that he can fill up his car at Costco, in order to save $5. My uncle had a quizzical look on his face (or it might have been disgust, i’m not quite sure). His friend continued, “$5 every tank, over the course of a year is a lot of money.” I don’t often agree with him, but this time, uncle had a point.

Even though he probably didn’t realize it, he was alluding to the energy that his friend was putting into saving $5 every time he filled up his car. Instead of taking the effort to driving an extra 5 – 10km to go to Costco for a fill-up, why not use that same energy to make the $5 instead. What’s the difference? The difference is huge. The difference is that you’d likely see a return of way more than $5 if you focused on making it, rather than driving out of your way to save it. There really is no limit on the first option. The second, well, you’re capped at the capacity of your gas tank.

Photo Credit: http://costco.com/

Photo Credit: http://costco.com/


3. Relationships are Under Your Control

If you want to have a good relationship, it takes work. Constant work. I am a part of a group of cousins who come from all over the world: Canada, US, soon to be Africa, Hong Kong. We hardly ever see each other. Yet when we get together, we share laughs, gossip, and we have an amazing time bonding.



We always have good intentions for getting together, and yet, the last time some of us (not all) got together was for my sister’s wedding. We promised each other at the end of the weekend that we would strive for a cousin reunion on a more regular basis. Otherwise, the alternatives is to get together during major events: weddings, funerals. Sometimes time goes by… and it’s too late. Here’s the rub. If you want a good relationship with anyone: your spouse, your family, your clients, your teammates, you have to actively work at it. Relationship is like a plant. It requires constant sunshine, water and fertilizer. Without it, the plant withers and dies. Sure you can miss a few days of watering… (man.. I hope my husband watered my basil while I was away)… and give it a good dose of water and plant food and it’ll sprout again. But neglected too long, well, you get the picture. You can’t come back from that.


From the business perspective, you probably already know that one of my favourite authors in leadership is Robin Sharma. In his bestseller, the Greatness Guide, he wrote about the importance of breaking bread with your clients. Food always helps as I mentioned in How to Harness the Secret Goodwill of Food. But the point here is that the bonding that you get when you connect with people is too valuable to waste. No amount of gifts, cards and money will substitute hanging out with those who are important to you. The presents only go so far. Ultimately you gotta show up at some point and be present.

4. Build the Foundation; Focus on your Strengths

My friend Jamie, of the very thriving Safeopedia.com reached out to me a while back. He and a couple seasoned internet entrepreneurs started Safeopedia, a one-stop shop resource hub for all things environmental health and safety. If you ever need to find out anything related to health and safety, all you need to do is look it up here. If you’ve ever met Jamie, he’s an ultra-positive guy with tons of energy (even more so than myself.. which is a feat, by the way).

Photo Credit: http://safeopedia.com

Photo Credit: http://safeopedia.com

He asked me the following question:

“I’m running my own business and one of our core values is “Scalability”.  In a small business or start up, how do I get from the point of doing it myself better to having somebody else do it for me?  Time, cost, errors, and other challenges are always looming and preventing this to happen.  A chicken and egg scenario that only gets worse as time goes.  Have you dealt with this craziness???”

(published, of course, with Jamie’s permission)

The ultra-postive Jamie via http://safeopedia.com

The ultra-postive Jamie via http://safeopedia.com

From a personal point of view, I think it’s bogus that growing up, we are encouraged to be well rounded individuals. We’re all good at some stuff, and not so good at other stuff. We love doing some stuff, and hate doing other stuff. Before we get to that, though, there are foundational life skills and values that we all need to have down pat:

  • Good people skills
  • Basic life skills to be self sufficient (cooking, personal hygiene)
  • Solid financial knowledge
  • Self Awareness and Spirituality
  • Understanding the Laws of the Universe

These are non-negotiables that I teach my 4 yr old son. He has to learn the foundation. After that, it’s my life’s mission to help him find his strengths, and develop the crap out of them. What does that mean?

  • Constantly help him identify his interests
  • Immerse him in an environment that helps him get good at it
  • Surround him with people who are successful at what he wants to do


Applying it to Business

This same concept is very applicable at the business level. Case in point: I love doing business strategy, and hate doing accounting. I great at being creative in developing business development opportunities and ideas; I am awful (and hate) doing payroll. So I farm out my accounting and tax to a professional (mint.com, and a human accountant), and payroll to waveapps.com . (I literally pulled out my hair in frustration the first year having to produce a T4 and keep track of source deductions.) But farming the stuff that I’m not good at to professionals, frees up my time to focus on stuff that I am good at. It allows me to capitalize on my strengths. And I’m a happier, more peaceful person because of it.


For Jamie, he definitely already know what his core business is. Guaranteed (hopefully), its likely  something at which they excel. Never, ever outsource the core business. Keep the core business in house always… The rest: the payroll, reception, VA, accounting, document management are really good candidates for outsourcing, no?  They can be outsourced because they are easily compartmentalized and already clearly defined. There are so many companies in the world who makes it their sole business to help businesses with stuff like this. My friend Yanning and his brother Da, are prime examples of this. Together they founded DEYA TECH, whose flagship product is called HOLA. It’s a document management system for a wide array of companies across many different industries in southeast Asia.

Photo Credit: http://deyatech.com/

Photo Credit: http://deyatech.com/

Why wouldn’t you engage these experts to alleviate you? You’d be silly not to. Companies like theirs have invested years developing and perfecting their product so that they can be industry leaders in the document management world. And you can reap in the benefit with a small fee.

5. Have a Tried and True Processes

At the inception of anything, whether business or life, nothing is systematic. I love this stage of start up (anything) because it’s the most creative. All ideas are worth considering. The founders do everything! As time progresses, certain chains of events will be repeatable, along with their mistakes, and chaos. This is when it’s good to take a step back and be draw out the general process, clean up the chaos. Harnessing the wisdom of Michael Gerber, once these processes are visible, it’s instantly more tangible.

Photo Credit: http://michaelegerbercompanies.com/

Photo Credit: http://michaelegerbercompanies.com/

Gaps can be identified. Different divisions in the organization start to emerge. At this point, it’s so much easier to match team members’ strengths with divisions.. and, potentially we can start to identify that some of the processes would be better and more cost effectively farmed out. Here’s my point: Tried and true processes enable you to not sweat petty things. If you have a process that runs smoothly, the process itself would be (should be) designed to catch most stuff, and not let anything fall through the cracks. If it does, it’s not tried and true.  Then you’ll need to tweak it, test it, and repeat this until it does catch most everything.

Tried and True in Your Life

We’re most familiar with tried and true processes at the organizational level. Consider that you already have tried and true process for your own personal day to day life. They’re probably just so smoothly run, that you hardly even notice them. They’re called habits. Hopefully they’re good habits. From the moment you wake up, you have a routine to likely wash up, have breakfast with your kids, maybe meditate (if you’re like me). Then everyone heads off to work and school.


Ok, you’re going “Yea, right, Cat. Who has time to have breakfast and meditate in the morning? I’m rushing out the door, and I’m lucky if my pants are on the right way.” I know. You gotta think though, is your routine serving you? Chances are, if you don’t even have time to look down to see if your fly is at the front or back, you probably ought to consider waking up earlier.

Here’s the rub: habits are under our control. In my post “How to Achieve the Crap out of your Goals,” I wrote about how habits take a mere 66 days to stick. You’ve probably been going with that same routine for years, let alone 66 days. I invite you to re-evaluate it. I invite you to re-evaluate all the routines in your life, and see if they’re working for you? Sure it takes a little time and effort.. but the benefit is that you free yourself from sweating the petty.

Take a simple example: My dad taught me to always put my keys in the same place every single time, if I wanted to find them the next time. When I do that, I don’t even need to think about where they are. I know already. It’s only when I deviate from the routine, deviate from the tried and true process that screw it up for me. Then I spend the next half hour hunting for my silly keys.

6. Visualize the End Game

One thing that is part of my tried and true morning process is meditation. I listen to a lot of podcasts. One thing that successful people have in common is that most all of them practice daily meditation. I started this practice myself a few years ago. Today, I cannot function well without my morning meditation.




Part of my meditation is to calm my mind before my day begins. The other significant part of my meditation is to visualize how I want my day to unfold. I identify all that I want to transpire in my life for the day, the year, and ultimately my longer term vision. I invite you to try this. I know the concept of meditation is foreign to a lot of people.. to most people, in fact. On one of Amy Porterfield’s most recent podcasts, she interviewed a gal named Gabby Bernstein, who is a huge authority of meditation, and manifestation. Her full interview is found here.

Photo Credit: http://gabbybernstein.com

Photo Credit: http://gabbybernstein.com

In this podcast, she talks about how to use meditation to make things appear in your life, to manifest in your life. The way she got onto Oprah, on the front page of the New York Times is all via meditation, action and manifestation.

What’s that got to do with not Sweating the Petty?

When you visualize what you ultimately want to achieve, something very interesting starts to happen. All the annoying little things along the way seem to almost melt away from your field of view. You’re so focused on what you want, that you truly don’t sweat the petty stuff. Your mind just knows that it’s too small. Like honey badger, it doesn’t give a shit. It only knows that it needs to get you to your end goal. That is the beauty of visualization.

Photo Credit: http://hippoquotes.com

Photo Credit: http://hippoquotes.com

Life’s too Short

Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff, yo. It only happens when you don’t know what you want, and/or when you don’t have and cannot rely on a good way to get to what you want.  Then your mind starts noticing little annoyances that don’t matter in the long run. If I find that I’m doing that one too many days, it’s a sign that I need to get back on track: revisit what I want in the long run. Visualize it in meditation. Design reliable processes in my life so I can go auto-pilot towards achieving my goals.

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