Saturday, May 06, 2006

Devil in the Details

Don't you hate it when you go to read someone's blog and it starts with how Busy they are? You ask your friend how it's going and of course, they say Busy. It seems everytime someone inquires about me my reply just naturally starts with Busy.

One of my big efforts lately has been training some colleagues. Helping a few diamonds-in-the-rough be a little less rough and a little more diamond. The net result is a better team, a better company, and individuals who are just simply better at their work.

While the effort required to produce something elegant is far greater than that required to produce something only middling, the side-effects are orders of magnitude different. Ask anyone who appreciates any form of art. Constructing the commonplace is easy, uncovering the exceptional requires vastly different aptitude.

Demanding excellence and discipline from undisciplined and mediocre talent necessitates meticulous attention to detail and a willingness to worry over seeming minutia. Which of course, most people find petty and inconsequential. We generally regard people who do agonize over the little things to be over-controlling, fanatical, or dare I say anal-retentive? I see their eyes gloss over in the conversation as they slowly start to write off the relevance of the miniscule point you were trying to make that appeared to them totally tangential to the task they undertook.

When I stop and think about how self-centered it sounds to champion excellence so resolutely, I can't help but wonder where that motivation comes from. I'm sure there are more than a few people who have wondered what makes a freak like me tick. As it usually turns about to be about most of the motivations I manage to maintain with my limited mental capacity, the fulcrum is my faith.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
--2 Corinthians 4:7-9, NIV
It's not possible for me to read this without hearing the words of my inner monologue assuming the voice of a southern preacher pounding each phrase out like a thundering bellow. And I must admit an "Amen" usually squeaks out its way out there at the end.

Faith is why I pursue excellence. Excellence is why I pursue discipline.

They say the devil is in the details and I appreciate the point being made. But in my journey, that's where I witness people most find their Savior and Salvation. If you aren't being persecuted you aren't trying hard enough.

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