Can you a remember a time when someone in your life – a family member or mentor-type person who knew, loved and cared about you innately – gave you a piece of simple advice that has stuck with you and continued to serve as a simple and sensible guide throughout your life?
For me, that was “one haircut at a time” – words of wisdom from my grandfather. I can hear his voice as I’m typing this now. The advice came at a time early in my career when I was working in a job that I loved, but feeling overwhelmed by multiple responsibilities and requests. It felt like I would never be able to get everything done!
My grandfather, Bernard “Barney” Browne emigrated to Canada in 1912 from Norwich, England at the age of four. Traveling with his parents and two siblings, they were originally booked to sail on the Titanic, but it was oversold so they came on the next ship.
The family which grew to four children, settled in Wingham, Ontario. My great grandfather who fought in WW1 was the town’s shoemaker and my grandfather became a barber in Wingham (pictured below on the right outside his barbershop).
When I came to him feeling overwhelmed, he told me that often at his barber shop there would be a line up out the street and around the corner of people waiting for a haircut. To alleviate the pressure, he would say to himself “one haircut at a time”, and focus on his customer in the barber chair instead of the line-up outside.
By paying attention to the thing you’re doing while you’re doing it, he may not have known it at the time, but he was practicing “One-Thing-at-a-Time Meditation”.
“Mindfulness creates centered awareness.
When you do one thing at a time, you’re guaranteed excellent results.
If you do too many things simultaneously, it messes up your neural circuits.
Focus on one thing at a time.” Deepak Choprah
Over the years, I have continued to take this wisdom from my grandfather to heart. Remembering “one haircut a time” to gently bring me back to moment-by-moment awareness of my surrounding environment and the task at hand.
“Be like a postage stamp.
Stick to one thing until you get there.” Josh Billings
I hope this simple piece of advice struck a chord and makes a difference for you too. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.