Success Is In the Details
How much time do you spend looking at the big picture, but then dismiss it as impossible because you are overwhelmed with what needs to be done to make it happen? You continue to yearn for what it is you want, but don’t sit down and lay out the details to be accomplished to get you where you yearn to be? Do you miss opportunities coming your way to make it happen because you are not paying attention to the impact of taking care of the obvious?
In 1990, New York City had the highest crime rate in their history. Since that date, the rate has been continually dropping and is sitting at 59.3% less overall crime in 2008 than it was eighteen years earlier. Violent crime has dropped by 63.8%, while crime against property has dropped by 58.3%. How did this happen? It wasn’t because they hired more officers to investigate murders, rapes and arson, along with burglary and car theft. It is because the policy began paying attention to petty crime on the streets that made tourists uncomfortable and drove people away from living in the city. They called it “quality-of-life crime”. Because of this effort, tourism has increased and it is safer to use the subways and walk the streets of NYC. Because they paid attention to the smallest details, the overall prosperity and safety of the city increased.
Let’s apply this concept to our everyday life. When you are not creating a joyful and fulfilling life for yourself, you are committing a quality-of-life crime against yourself. What do you see when you look at the details and nuances of your life that might help you eliminate the overwhelm that stops you from making the bigger changes?
We spent a great deal of time working on making space in our lives. We have eliminated the things we have put up with for a very long time, stopped dwelling in the past, eradicated worry about the future, and simplified our world. We’ve spent time practicing to “look, see, tell the truth, and take action”, get our needs met by setting boundaries and standards, and we’ve created reserves in our life. In our previous lesson, we learned to respond to people and opportunities immediately rather than let them sit. Now, it’s time to start paying attention to the details of our life – body, environment, ideas, trends, changes, projects – whatever it is that we are wanting to do something profound.
Michelangelo said “Trifles make perfection possible – and perfection is no trifle.”
Many people have praised me for my big picture view of things, and the imagination and vision I bring to projects and situations. Where I struggle is in the extreme details. Often I will start a project, get it more than halfway done, and stop because I’m ready to move on to the next big project. This worked well at work, when I had hundreds of people reporting to me to whom I could delegate the details. As a solopreneur, a person in charge of my own life, or team member at home or in other volunteer positions, I can no longer do that. I must take charge of the details.
The question is – where do you spend most of your time? Given this principle, I would say that 50% of your time needs to be spent handling the micro details, 40% needs to be spent in developing systems that handle the micro details automatically, and 10% needs to be spent in reviewing the big picture. What do you do when you are spending 10% of your time reviewing the big picture? You are looking for the right “minute” things to tackle or systems to build.
Lets go back to an earlier lesson, “Present Perfect”. In that lesson I told you: “When you develop an appreciation for your present, it is much easier for you develop the clarity you need to begin to take the next steps toward building the future you want and desire. “ Details most often occur in the present – in the moment. Because we are now utilizing our skills in over responding and responding immediately, we can do something about them.
Goals, on the other hand, are more of a macro level viewpoint, and are in the future. Therefore, we are not able to “pull” people and opportunities toward us as easily (we will talk more about this in a future lesson), unless you believe that taking care of the present is what attracts the future to which we aspire. Once this becomes our focus – we have created the connection between our conscious present and our desired future.
Too theoretical? When we have a goal, based upon our values and life intentions, it is what we are aspiring to at some point in the future. We must take the time to determine the detailed steps we must take in present time to move us toward our goal – one step at a time.
Have you heard of the butterfly effect? This is a theory that small differences in the condition of a state of a fixed system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. Simple example: The beating of butterfly wings in Arizona can cause wind gusts in Alaska. This is a type of ripple effect that can be caused by tossing pebbles into still water.
By creating a steady flow of microscopic improvements, we are able to ultimately meet and even surpass our goals, much like the $10 dollars saved every week adding up to millions over time. If you focus on what you can fix instantly, you will get instant gratification. Given that is what our society thrives on these days, this should feel wonderful! Tomorrow you can fix something else, but today you did this. It is your opportunity to celebrate and be grateful. The bigger goals and problems will start to take care of themselves because you are taking care of the details.
The key to success is in not waiting for a trend to emerge. Nothing is insignificant. Watch for early opportunities, fine distinctions and messages, and take action immediately. Details are invaluable and should be treated that way. Your time and energy are best invested here – not dreaming of the future. A perfect example you have all heard and read about for the last several years – the demise of the automobile industry. They have lobbied against sustainable, environmental and economical improvements, and ignored what people are asking for. They are now paying the price of ignoring the details.
Think of yourself as a large network. You can integrate ideas in small bytes rather than trying to absorb the entire concept at once. You can take small action steps more easily than you can go after a huge opportunity. When we eat small meals throughout the day, we are more energetic, focused and feel much lighter than if we gulp down one huge meal and deal with the consequences of indigestion (stress) and a feeling of extreme fullness (fear). This same concept applies to all areas of your life, including your business.
Let’s talk about that for just a moment. In today’s world, it is very expensive to make a mistake. Customers and clients are much less tolerant than they have ever been before. Reliability and trust are key concepts, not only in running our business but in our personal lives as well. That’s why everything we offer up must be working 100% of the time. Excellence is an investment we make in ourselves and our careers. It is rarely straightforward, and hardly ever routine. But, like success, it is found in the details.
Thomas Leonard, who some consider to be the father of coaching, shared a model with his coaching students which has been echoed in a variety of settings throughout my life, some from a spiritual sense. This model is called the opportunity model: Occurrence>Message>Lesson>Problem>Crisis. He says the lesson of this model is that if we “immediately respond to things (positive and negative; wanted and unwanted) as they come to you, almost all of them can immediately become opportunities. And if you don’t, they can turn into something really unpleasant.” (Leonard, 1998)
When we respond to details immediately, and over-respond on top of it, our focus will change from issues to be dealt with to opportunities to be enjoyed. You will have completely bypassed the rest of the model.
Excerpt from coaching program Free to Succeed: Feisty and Fearless.
Georgia Feiste, owner of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, is a life transitions coach, writer, and workshop facilitator. She specializes in career, business and personal life transitions for people seeking change in their life. Georgia is uniquely skilled in providing support and encouragement as her clients set intentional goals to attain their desires, holding open the space they need to stretch and grow. Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life. Her website is http://www.collaborativetransitions.com, where she blogs about business and career, and http://www.rainbowbridgecoach.com , where she and many other coaches blog about mind, body, spirit and emotion. Georgia can be reached at (402) 304-1902.