Fidelis In Parvo: Faithfulness in Small Things

The Latin phrase is associated with the Christian teaching where Christ describes how those who show skill, care and attention in how they treat small things, or use small amounts of resource effectively, will be given responsibility for much more in God’s service.Small Investment

It makes a good school motto and reflects the attitude of mind and visible culture of the Mount School York where our daughters attended in the 90s and 00s! It is a Quaker ethos girls school, founded in 1785 and the motto fits very well with what happened there and how things were done. There was a quiet expectation that everyone would do their best. People visibly cared for one another and were concerned to take that attitude of mind to areas of (international) society in need.


This approach can be carried very effectively into all aspects of one’s life. Small changes or actions can add up to significant positive impacts for the benefit of those around us.

Global Volunteers at Romanian Orphanage

Global Volunteers at Romanian Orphanage.


This theme was taken by John Citrin in his recent Phi Beta Kappa Commencement Address at Wesleyan University in the USA. John is an alumnus, author and Leader for CEO recruitment with international Executive Search firm, Spencer Stuart. During his speech, John gave some examples of the life changing power of small things. His thoughts on investment for example:

” (This) is the arithmetic of saving, investing and compounding, over time. And there is no time to waste. If you save just a few percentage points of what you earn every month and invest it, even with single digit returns, over time, that will grow to become a lot of money, thanks to the power of compounding. Let’s say you develop the discipline of saving $300 per month (foregoing restaurants and bars for a while perhaps). That’s 6% of your salary if you’re earning $60,000 a year. And let’s say you invest it at a 5% rate of return. Over 25 years this will grow to become $175,000. Nice. But if you can find a way to invest at a 10% return and wait just another 10 years, then that is your easiest and most sure fire way to become a millionaire. That $300 a month becomes $1,028,000.”

Another area offered for consideration was leadership:

” Leadership is so widely discussed and written about that it’s easy to forget why it’s important in the first place. Psychologists are convinced that over the long-term, people act only in their self-interest. But leadership and success, it turns out, go hand in hand — if you apply the power of small things. And one of those small things is a fail-safe notion — that if you want to be successful in life, worry less about your own success, especially in the short-term. Dedicate yourself, instead, to making those around you successful. [ .. ] The vast majority of the most successful leaders are described by those who work with and for them, as caring as much about the success of others as their own success. By contrast, only a small percentage of the most successful are described as putting their own success ahead of that of their peers and subordinates.

Think about the power of this small, but fundamental concept. By focusing on the success of those around you, you attract the best people to work with you. And people become invested in your success. This helps you land the most important assignments and mentors and helps you achieve the best results on those assignments, through the strength of collaboration and mutual support.

There is a deep-seated principle that governs much of human interaction – the principle of reciprocity. All the energy and commitment that you dedicate to the success of others, therefore comes back to you as those others in turn become committed to your success. Simply put, the best leaders don’t climb their way to the top over the backs of others, they are carried to the top. ”

John uses a number of other examples, including The 7 Minute Workout. I’ll leave you to decide on the efficacy of the technique but a daily investment of 7 minutes does fall well into the small change category!


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