There was a rule in our house when I was growing up: School work and chores had to be done before any play. This included Saturdays.
As a teenager, I began getting in the habit of hurrying through my work in order to leave sooner to hang out with my friends.
There was a certain standard set of what was acceptable and what was not, and my habit of rushing through everything had put my standard in the unacceptable range.
Being the wise mother that she was, my mom decided to teach me the importance of doing your best.
One of my regular Saturday chores was to clean the bathrooms. I didn’t really care for chores in general, but cleaning the bathrooms was my least favorite on the list.
As I hurried through the cleaning, sloshing some soapy water here and there, my mind was on the activity planned with my friends that day, who were already waiting for me outside. I finished the cleaning in record time and retreated to my bedroom to grab my gear.
Just as I was coming out of my room, my mom appeared and said, “Come with me”. I knew I was in trouble as we headed for the hallway bathroom, where she began to point out the streaks on the mirror and the remnants of the dirty ring around the bathtub. She also informed me that there were mistakes made in the other bathroom as well, but didn’t say what specifically.
Again, I hurried to finish, feeling even more impatient to get outside. And I honestly felt that I had done a good enough job to pass inspection. But I was wrong.
On the 2nd inspection, my mom pointed out some streaks on the shower walls and dust on the light bar over the mirror in the hallway bathroom, things she did not point out the first time. And again, she said there were mistakes in the other bathroom.
I cleaned what she had pointed out, but in the 2nd room, I didn’t see anything dirty.
The third time around, I made sure that I got all the streaks and dust, and finally discovered the dirt and hair in the crevices on the side of the toilet in the other bathroom and the dust in the vent cover. (Just minor things, I thought, but it was the only dirt I could find. As it turned out, that was it.)
One thing I didn’t realize was that my mom was keeping track of the time. After doing this same chore thousands of times, she knew exactly how long it should take to do the job well.
By the time I finished the 3rd attempt, I received a “very good job”, along with, “If you would have given your best the 1st time, you would have been done 45 minutes ago. Don’t ever settle for good enough. Always give your best“.
Pay attention to the little details…
Just as the picture above illustrates, the little details are important. If you don’t pay attention to them, it will show in your results, probably in unpleasant or even embarrassing ways.
Even though I never developed a love for cleaning, the lesson I learned that Saturday developed into a habit in everything I do now. Though my mom is no longer here to inspect my cleaning, I still give my best effort when I do it.
Whatever the task is…cleaning toilets, waiting on customers, shoveling manure, or writing, I always set my mind to doing an excellent job.
From an employer or client perspective, the attention to detail and effort says a lot about a person’s character. It shows integrity and a willingness to go above and beyond the normal standards.
Imagine if you were told you needed brain surgery and you had a choice between 2 surgeons. The first one graduated Med School with a “C” average and had an attitude of “I’m just doing it for the money”. The second surgeon graduated with an “A”, with honors, and had the attitude, “I want to do the best I can to help people”. Which one would you choose?
“Live a life worth living, a life of integrity. Be real, kind, helpful and wise, always with an attitude of gratitude. And whatever it is you do, give 110% effort to it, even in the little things”. – Amber