hiking boots rocks in your shoes

Ever get rocks in your shoes? Or even a single, tiny rock?

It happened to me this weekend as I began to mow my grass. A small rock somehow pole-vaulted over the edge of my high top work boots and quickly worked its way to an inconvenient resting spot under the bottom of my foot.

Did I stop the lawnmower, remove my boot, and shake out the tiny villain? Of course not. It was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t causing any real pain. It was just irritating — irritating enough to continually draw my attention back to it. Instead of enjoying the act of manicuring my lawn (yes, I really do), my thoughts kept returning to “Uggghhhh, that stupid little pebble is so ANNOYING.”

I mowed at least half my lawn this way until I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I halted the job long enough to deboot my foot and empty the contents. I was shocked by the size of the culprit. It wasn’t even a small rock, it was smaller than that. It was basically a grain of sand on steroids.

It’s funny how such a little thing could derail my productivity, effectiveness, and enjoyment. I always think it’s the giant boulders in my path that slow me down, when in reality those little obstacles — the little rocks in your shoes — are just as debilitating to the pursuit of a superpowered life as the big ones are.

For instance:

I’ll tough out a headache instead of taking some Tylenol.

I’ll cook around a pile of dirty dishes instead of taking three minutes to clean them up first.

I’ll overlook a small lack of accountability in another person because it’s “not a big deal.”

I’ll ignore my car making a strange noise for weeks instead of driving straight to the garage to get it checked out.

The problem is that I choose to live with those tiny irritations way longer than I need to, so I suffer the irritation and consequences far longer than necessary. Plus, more often than not the problems do NOT go away on their own like I hope they will. I know they’re not that hard to get rid of if I will just take a moment or two to deal with them. But I don’t. So I suffer needlessly. And left unchecked, these small irritations can lead to much greater damage if I don’t address them sooner rather than later.

Today, I’m challenging myself to address small irritations the moment they surface. I know it won’t always be easy, nor will it always be what I want to do in the moment. However, I’m willing to bet that the more I do it, the easier it will get, and the happier I will be.

How about you? Got any rocks in your shoes?

4 replies
  1. Jeff Hunsaker
    Jeff Hunsaker says:

    There’s also the “let some fires burn” counter argument from Reid Hoffman. He suggests entrepreneurs need to let some non-critical issues fester until the best/ optimal outcome/solution presents itself. (Latest Masters of Scale podcast…quite good)

    I also think some days you just feel a little crummy or ache. I would drive myself nuts if I went to the doc every time I felt less than 100%.

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Good points, Jeff. I’ve evolved over the years when it comes to doctor visits. I wait at least a week if I’m sick (like cold or flu). I wait a few more weeks if I have a weird pain in my foot. Mostly because my doctor used to send me back home with the instruction to call him back if the sickness or pain persists. It almost (like 99.9% of the time) never did.


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