“A person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it.” - Chinese proverb
I have a take on this proverb: "Don't make more work for other people." This is one of those things our parents hopefully teach us at an early age. If we don't learn this early, it is one of those little things that can make our lives just that much harder. If we can learn it early, it will make our lives infinitely easier and we become one of those people that others want around.
The basis for these quotes is to encourage people to think about other people and the big picture. The Dalai Lama said, “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.” What would the world be like if we thought about other people before we thought of ourselves? We would pick up that piece of paper we threw at the basket but missed so that someone else wouldn't have to do it for us or we'd realize that what we do affects other people.
Here is a story that might help us relate. Years ago, we were cleaning up for a video shoot where Sensei was going to be interview by the local news at the dojo. One of the senior students was tasked with cleaning this raised tatami area where Sensei was going to be interviewed. As the student wiped down the tatami he took special care to rub harder on the areas where it was dirtier. When Sensei came down to inspect, he noticed that there were these huge white patchy spots that stood out. Needless to say, he went off on the student and all of us. Then we had to stay longer and pull out the tatami mats and thoroughly scrub them so that the color was uniform. It was a Friday night and we didn't get out of there until close to 10:00 PM.
This student was just being earnest and yes the mat was "cleaner" than when he started but in his efforts he couldn't see the bigger picture which was that most likely Sensei was going to be interview from the waist up and the floor wouldn't be visible. Therefore it only needed a light wipe down to pick up the dust, but instead we all had to pay for his error and stay longer and put in more work.
"Don't make more work for other people" can just be perfunctory politeness but it can be the thing which changes the world and all we need to do is truly think about not only the people in our immediate life but everyone around us.