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Keeping It Real: Attending to Details

I am not a detail person. Fact.

Sometimes, though, I need to attend to details. Patiently and painstakingly work my way through every last jot and tittle. Systematically, thoroughly, exhaustively, completely, accurately, timely… you get the idea.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Details, for us concept-people, represent a challenge of focus, discipline and perseverance.

Focus. The sort of attentiveness required to spot and recognize necessary distinctions among the blur and whirl of facts, events and personalities is a capacity we can only dream of. (And we usually call those dreams, “nightmares.”)

It’s like that children’s game, “Which of these pictures is different than the rest?” Detail-oriented people spot the distinction instantly, while the rest of us look and look and look. Not until we compare each and every feature of each drawing do we discover the difference.

Discipline. The sort of patience required to look at something from every imaginable angle, follow through on every clue, look under every stone, is both a skill and a character quality that takes years for the uninitiated of us to develop.

Like a chess game where one is thinking about all the possible future moves. Dizzying to me, concentrated delight to those who have eyes for details. They see patterns, strategies, errors to avoid, opportunities to seize, and an unfolding story in the chaos and complexity being worked out on the chess board.

Perseverance. The sort of determination required to examine every line of computer code, every line item in the financial reports, or every fragile specimen in the laboratory testing procedure, is a virtue that my 10-minute attention span cannot even comprehend.

Such perseverance has to do with being able to tell yourself, “You’re not done until you’re done.” And then keep working with the same level of concentration and dedication you had when you started.

If you are a detail-oriented person these observations are probably obvious to you. I am merely describing the way you dance, play and revel throughout your workday. For the rest of us, attending to details is difficult, out of reach, and, more often than not, painful.

But sometimes I need to attend to details. To do so I need to develop my character and skill sets. It’s not easy. It’s not fun.

Focus, discipline and perseverance offer a good place to start.

On your side,

- Karl Edwards

Keeping It Real is a column where I put what I am learning out on the table. No faking. No posturing. No pretending. Just learning. Always learning. 
Beware of the leader who is not always learning.


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