Two decades ago, my little family headed out from our home in Boca Raton, Florida, for a week at Disney World. Orlando was a three hour drive and I was taking the kids up to meet up with Sam, who was already there attending an engineering conference.
Driving long distances alone with very young children can be trying, but I could manage the trip without a hitch with some careful planning.
About 90 minutes into the trip I realized that I had left our annual passes in my dresser drawer. At home. Sure, I had thought about packing them about 400 times. I had planned to pack them. I just hadn’t bothered to add them to the packing list.
That minor detail cost me an extra three hours of driving a van of unhappy munchkins around, a chunk of gas, a big dent in our vacation plans, and a boatload of blown nerves.
The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing everyone aboard, in 1986 because of a defect in an O-ring — a part that was seemingly insignificant in the overall structure.
In events that matter, details matter.
How many times have you been hit with a huge late fee because you missed a payment by one day? How often has costly damage occurred to your car because you put off regular maintenance, like oil changes or transmission fluid? How many assignments did you lose points on, just because you turned them in shortly after the deadline? How many opportunities have you missed because you always show up just a few minutes late? How many times has your day been ruined because you didn’t pay attention to where you put your keys?
You will be challenged by problems that could have been prevented if you had paid closer attention to the details.
Recognize this truth. Embrace it. Determine to pay attention to those things that will make your life better, happier, more productive, and less stressful.
It’s not that the devil’s in the details. But that every detail contains a seed that could potentially make the difference between success and failure.
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