I’m here again, trying to practice the art of consistency. This awakens a strange memory, teaching my kids to change the toilet paper roll. I’m not sure why I made such a lesson out of such a mundane task. This memory is shared by my grown daughter, who now holds a master’s degree and is an R.D., (Registered Dietician). Although I question whether I had anything to do with her success at all, she repeatedly tells me one of the reasons is because I taught her “to be the person” to change the toilet paper roll.
It seems like such a simple task but undertaken by so few. The opportunity exists to consistently be the one. This brings me to a stark realization; consistency doesn’t require a master’s degree, but a master’s degree requires consistency. I watched my daughter grow and achieve by her consistent efforts to overcome the challenges and obstacles she faced. There were times she grew weary and yet she pushed forward.
Today, I am the student, still practicing. I taught the lesson, but did I grasp its true meaning? The lesson lies in recognizing opportunities to grow beyond the norm, pushing limits of established comfort zones, and not expecting someone else to do the work. Yes, It’s difficult to keep showing up and consistently deliver results. Planning is one thing, results need action.
When a student signs up for a course, yet never attends class or studies for the exam, they most likely will fail. It’s great fun to sign up, but when it comes time to do the work, do we show up?
When life rushes by and excuses pile up, consistency itself becomes a monumental task. Once again, I am reminded to consider the question, Can I make something happen when life keeps happening?
Oh, the overwhelming weight of my realizations could derail me at this very moment. However, I choose to stay present and continue sharing. And now let me take you back to the toilet paper story.
At an early age, I had to teach myself how to change the toilet paper. I was not prepared for the real world, having been cared for in an extremely protective manner. There were days when I felt paralyzed, and it clearly showed in my inaction. The more I sat, the worse I felt about my inability to accomplish. The day came when I realized I may not be able to accomplish great things, but I can feel great about accomplishing small things. The help came in words written by Helen Keller, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” And thus the lesson of the most seemingly insignificant task on this planet, changing the toilet paper roll, was born.
We teach our children what we have learned, in hopes that they embrace the message and it helps them reach greater heights than we could. So the lesson was told as follows, “If you change the toilet paper any time and anywhere it is needed, you will have achieved something greater than most. For how many times, have you come upon an empty roll? That was someone leaving the job to you. If you do this seemingly trivial chore, you will be able to achieve great things in life.”
Many other repetitive duties remind me of the importance of these words. These tiny tasks are the cornerstone of our character. Each time, I’m able to value an ostensibly insignificant task with an appreciation for how it helps me grow, I feel more capable.
That humble lesson leads me here today, taking action by writing at my desk, and sharing what I know, in hopes that it may help you consistently grow and accomplish all the great things!
-Erika K Rothwell