Small Improvements Lead to Exceptional Results

Just finished reading The Secret Letters of the Monk who Sold his Ferrari—a reflection on happiness and leading a remarkable life.

Sharma talks about small daily progress. He writes, “The truly wise recognize that small daily improvements always lead to exceptional results over time.”

This applies to living a remarkable life, but also to living with hearing loss.

Often, hearing loss is so gradual that we adjust to it before we even acknowledge it.

Sadly, the adjustments take us away from happiness and leading a remarkable life. Withdrawal from social situations and family gatherings are two common reactions.

Many people with hearing loss develop a passive outlook, says Dr. Sam Trychin, a psychologist with hearing loss.

Taking responsibility for hearing loss is a critical step in reversing this process. For me, it was not a lightning bolt from the sky that forced me to take responsibility. It was a series of small epiphanies.

Here’s an example. In my second year of practicing as an audiologist, I went to a large staff meeting. The tables were arranged in a U shape, and discussion was encouraged. Most of the 15 or so people were audiologists. I brought my FM system and asked the group to pass it around. Unfortunately, the microphone was quickly forgotten. I waited for an opportunity to interrupt, but it never seemed like a good time.

I became so upset that my knees were shaking. These were audiologists. They should know better! When I finally did stand up and say something, my voice was trembling and I came across as angry. I even cried.

Three epiphanies from that day:

  1. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. There’s never a perfect time to interrupt. It’s important to do it early.
  2. Expect people to forget. Dr. Trychin suggests mentioning up front: “If you forget, I hope it is okay to remind you.”
  3. Expecting people to “know better” is a losing strategy. People don’t willfully refuse to help. It’s a lack of understanding that prevents them from accommodating. And whose job is it to educate? Mine.

These three small lessons were important ones, and opened the door to taking responsibility. It takes courage to interrupt. The other option is to fade into the background, which I also tried to do.

The door opened a crack that day. After a few other similar situations, the door opened wide.

I do know that it starts with small steps. Baby steps. The conviction to act, and to advocate for myself, came from small improvements. Soon, fading into the background was no longer an option.

Related post: Start With Small Changes

  • Photo credit:  © Alan Fortune

    Sandra Vandenhoff

    Dr. Sandra Vandenhoff is an audiologist with hearing loss, founder of HEARa, Hearing Strategies coach, speaker, and Canadian author, who gave her GPS away long before realizing that it was a good brain-boosting move.

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