February 3 – The Little Things

“It’s the little things that make the big things possible. Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.” (J. Willard Marriott)

There is a saying that says “the devil is in the details.” More recently, I have come to understand that the saying should be “God is in the details.” I think the former makes the details seem somehow evil or unnecessary, where the former says that it is the Glory that comes from getting the details right. This quote follows on those lines.

Recently I was watching TV, and there was a commercial on where a smart looking woman was walking through her house testing various things. The height of flowers at the dinner table were trimmed, dishes were moved back from the edge of the counter, and so on. In the last few seconds of the commercial her guests had arrived. The plate that was slid back was out of reach of the toddler, and the trimmed flowers allowed her to see the shorter, elderly lady across the table from her. Clearly she had worked hard on the “big” things for her party. Her food was probably perfectly prepared, she had out her linens, and so on. But, she was taking pride that she had nailed the details to make the party better for her guests and herself.

I think this is a good illustration of the importance of the details. It reminds me that if you want something to be well received, you have to do the finish work, and get those details right.

Think about a home improvement project. Say a new kitchen is being installed. The cabinets are hung perfectly, the counter is balanced just right, the flooring is laid level and true. But, until those last details, the moldings, are finished, the project just won’t look right. Get those relatively inexpensive details right, and the thousands spent on the rest will take on an outstanding look.

I take some pride in getting details right, and when I am not attentive to them, I feel that my work suffers. Today I am going to make myself more aware of the “little things”, the details of my job and home life, and see where I might be able to be just a little better.

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