When you are developing a strategy or a solution to a challenge, there are critical times when attention to detail will serve you well.
There are many professions where attention to detail and accurate measurement is imperative. For instance, surgeons, engineers, astronauts, air traffic controllers, educators, and many others, must be especially skilled in this area. I have the utmost respect for all. It has been my observation that to be a success, in just about anything you do, there must be a discipline for details.
I give credit to my Dad and have him to thank for teaching me this lesson at an early age…well, let’s say it took some time and repetition, but it's finally sinking in! Like a quote often attributed to Mark Twain, loosely translated as, “I couldn’t believe how ignorant my Dad was when I left the house at seventeen and how much smarter he was when I returned at 27.” Twain was in his character persona, as my research uncovered; his own father passed when he was eleven. Nevertheless, there is wisdom in the words and every young “all knowing” person, or everyone who has been one, can relate.
My Dad also taught me the value of challenging work.
He is retired now, after a long successful career at Goodyear. He is a remarkable expert marksman, and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Army. He spent many hours on the range perfecting his craft as a competitive shooter. He continues to work a small business as a gunsmith… more a labor of love. I have learned the incredible detail involved, has kept his mind sharp as a tack after 82 years.
I hope in this short blog you will take away some tips to help you “sharpen your saw” or, as marksmen would say, “tighten your group” in your work, business, marketing, sales, or creative problem solving career. At the end, I will gift you with 5 tips I hope will help you in your journey.
My Dad has taught thousands of people to shoot accurately, including myself, my brother, wife, two sons, nieces and countless others. I’ll try not to bore those with differing opinions about firearms. However, his training has taught me several important lessons in life for strategizing and solution development.
So, I have learned to apply these ground rules in life, as well as by facilitating creative problem solving.
My older son became a marine, where he was taught the basics of firing the M16-A4 Service Rifle during basic training at Parris Island by primary marksmanship instructors. Just like dad, they taught detailed and specific techniques of shooting such as, breathing and trigger control, as well as position stability. For instance, you must spend several hours “snapping in”, which allows you to gain confidence and build muscle memory in different shooting positions. This takes tremendous discipline and focus to retain such knowledge. So, attention to detail is critical for survival! You must learn and practice the fundamentals of rifle shooting…proper position, breath control, trigger control, and follow through. The fundamentals must come BEFORE you start worrying about wind formulas, mil-dot ranging formulas, or spin drift. Crawl first; then walk.
Any skill that involves potentially dangerous machinery, (i.e.-operating a chainsaw or driving a car), requires preparation, great attention to detail, the right equipment, and concentration.
As with any new skill—certainly when shooting a firearm or reloading ammunition, you learn a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you can do it well. For instance, you can make super-accurate ammo tailored to your specific firearm. Next, go to the range and test different loads with a micrometer to figure out the velocity, drag coefficient of each load, and then measure your group. It’s just more rewarding when you get that mental kick from shooting ammo you made yourself.
It’s the same feeling you get from other DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects such as:
- designing, planting and growing your own food in a garden
- repairing your lawnmower
- laying tile for the first time
- building a piece of furniture or even a house.
Beware! Reloading is dangerous and must be done by the book! To avoid having an accident or a fatality, follow a good manual every single time (spoiler alert! Don’t trust what you read on the internet). Like my attorney friend says, “nothing spoils a party like a cadaver!” You need the correct powder, primers, and bullets for the caliber you want to reload. In addition, you need a scale to set powder charges, weigh bullets, and verify that your powder measure is consistently throwing the correct-weight charge. Every step of the reloading process is very detailed.
- First, removing the spent primer and resizing the cartridge case.
- Next, re-priming and charging with powder, accurately measuring powder often down to just one or two grains difference to get the most accurate load.
- Then, you are seating and crimping the bullet properly.
The crazy part, as in facilitation, there is a mountain of more knowledge involved than I mentioned here!
You get the idea… it’s tedious and you must stay focused and concentrate to get a good outcome. As my dad reminded me…after all of this you are only about halfway through the process! So, I might accurately (pun intended) guess, most of you have absolutely no desire to become a reloader when you can buy ammunition over the counter.
Consequently, as with duck hunting, cycling, home-brewing, backpacking/camping or any hobby, you get into seriously, you may eventually wind up accumulating quite a bit of equipment. Just like facilitation, you don’t need it all at once to get started successfully. I’m thankful my dad instilled this value in me and I have applied it in my career.
Here are 5 tips I hope you can apply to improve your career and life:
- If you don’t use it you will lose it. As a facilitator, it helps me to practice techniques so I can “snap in” when presented with a situation…and you will ALWAYS experience “situations.” PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE…Lather-Rinse-Repeat. Accumulate a lot of tips and techniques so you are ready for ANY adventure. Then realize it wouldn’t be fun if it were too certain. Jump and grow wings on the way down! Trust the process!
- Calibrate - look for real facts and details BEFORE your meeting, whether you are selling or facilitating. Now, more than ever, there really is a world of info at your fingertips, or thumb-tips, on your smart phone! Take external factors into account, there will always be variables…make sure you know the constants before you act.
- Seek truth. Especially, when you are analyzing or fact-finding. Act like a doctor looking to diagnose, or an ethnographer with just a camera… capture what IS about the situation, more so than what FEELS.
- To get the best outcomes from your meetings, you must prepare, have the right equipment, concentration, and certainly, show great attention to detail!
- Did I mention practice?!? Hone your craft before adding too many bells and whistles! Crawl before you walk or run! Keep running!
I learned from my very experienced marathoner friend (over 60+ marathons!) there is a lot more to running (selling, facilitating, marketing, managing, leading) than meets the eye!