“The only difference between merely satisfactory delivery and great delivery is attention to detail.” ~Sir Richard Branson
Oftentimes, the difference between a champion and a near champion can boil down to the details.
No one knows this better than John Wooden, the first man to make it to The Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach and as a player. He points out that seemingly innocuous things make the difference between champions and near-champions. For example, he would begin the first squad meeting with the same demonstration, year after year. What do you think that demonstration was? It was about socks. Really.
As he says in his book, A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, “I wanted absolutely no folds, wrinkles, or creases of any kind on the sock…I had a very practical reason for being meticulous about this. Wrinkles, folds, and creases can cause blisters. Blisters interfere with performance during practice and games…These seemingly trivial matters, taken together and added to many, many other so-called trivial matters, build into something very big; namely, your success.”
Wooden’s sentiment can easily be put to work in a business context. What about all those details? The follow-up calls, the paperwork or the gesture of gratitude toward your coworkers? Although we don’t want to lose sight of our overarching goals, it is often the details that carry us to the next level.
Entrepreneur and leader Richard Branson also has a passion for attention to detail. In an article that appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine, he remarked,
“Many bosses regularly speak to staff at all levels, but often they do not follow up on problems they uncover. This means their employees never learn what importance the CEO places on getting the details right, or see just how necessary and possible it is to address the everyday problems that come up. If you foster a culture of waiting for someone else to solve problems, the company will suffer the consequences.
Great delivery also depends on great communication, which should start at the top. Be brave: hand out your e-mail address and phone number. Your employees will know not to misuse it or badger you, and by doing so, you will be giving them a psychological boost — they will know they can contact you anytime a problem comes up that requires your attention. Instilling attention to detail throughout your new company will prove especially important when the business begins to gain ground. Employees across the business should be focusing on getting it right all day, every day.”
Closer to home, our own CEO, Suzanne Updegraff instills the importance of attention to detail as one of the rungs on the ladder to excellence, both in our Professional Presence in a Casual World and Personal Effectiveness programs.
What details have you been putting off that you can take care of today? Consider a pile of paperwork that has been languishing on your desk, unopened or unreturned email correspondence, or follow‐up phone calls that just never seem to get made.
Now look further at details you may have never considered. The point is not to fill your time with minutia. Rather, broaden your reach and influence by hitting the finish line at break neck speed, in all of your endeavors. Write down a layer of “finishing steps” to a current project you are working on, to set your intention.
So, instead of concentrating on your next promotion, position, or raise, when you get to your desk each Monday morning, consider spending your energy on taking care of those (seemingly) small details that will take your personal effectiveness and professional presence to the next level.