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Pebbles and Mountains by Jim Stovall

When we get serious about our future, we all tend to focus on the big issues in our personal and professional lives. These include our family, friends, fitness, faith, and finances. Our focus on these big issues is often interrupted by tripping over small obstacles. The Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali, may have said it best, “Sometimes it’s the pebble in your shoe that wears you down more than the mountain in front of you.”

I find that many highly skilled, motivated people have mediocre results in every area of their lives because they have little nagging details that are either ignored or create stress when left undone. In these cases, a flea can be more distracting than an elephant. When you think of the great successes and breakthroughs in your life, you will likely realize that these momentous occasions and milestones hinged upon a small detail or incident.

The way we do anything is the way we will eventually do everything. Therefore, we cannot give our best efforts and total focus only when we think something is important. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing to the best of our ability. High achievers often do fewer things than those with mediocre results. They focus on priorities and allow others to handle the small details, or they eliminate those details that are not necessary.

There are many time-wasters built into our 21st-century lives. Your electronic devices can either serve you or become your master. You must control them and never allow them to control you. If you allow people to constantly interrupt your flow and focus, you are simply changing the channel from your priorities to theirs. Learn how to say no or, better yet, avoid the questions in the first place.

Paperwork can multiply if you don’t deal with it. As a blind person myself, since I can’t read the written word that is mailed or delivered to me, I work with one of my colleagues, and we endeavor to only handle each piece of paper once. Correspondence in print or electronic form should be responded to immediately, quickly eliminated, or put on the calendar to be dealt with at a more opportune time. Allowing it to pile up is inefficient, distracting, and creates a workspace that kills creativity.

Work on doing first things first. Go through your daily list of things to do early in the morning or, better yet, the night before. Ask yourself, “If I knew I could only get one thing done today, which of these items would it be?” Put that on the top of your list and then ask, If I only could get one of the still remaining items done, which one would that be?” This item obviously becomes the second priority, and you can work through your entire schedule the same way.

Remove the small pebbles that annoy and distract you so that you can focus on the mountain that represents your destiny.

As you go through your day today, don’t allow the little things to get in the way of the big things.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by email at; on Twitter at; or on Facebook at

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