At first glance this Tip may seem totally ridiculous to you. I know that it used to seem that way to me. You probably will not read the entire Tip. It is a little long. I certainly understand that – I don’t even like it! But, the truth contained in this particular Tip has made my life so much better!
These weekly Tips are really all about one thing…“finer distinctions”. A finer distinction is the ability to see things that other people do not see, cannot see, or do not know how to see.
Many of us make a list of the items that we need when we go to the store, which is what I did recently when I went to pick up some items at Home Depot. One of the items on my list was a short extension cord. I looked through my list and checked each item off one by one as I picked up what I needed. When my list got shorter, I glanced at it and noticed that the only other items I needed were some heavy duty staples and the extension cord. I then put my list in my pocket because I said to myself two of the most fatal words that any person will ever say to themselves…“I’ll remember.” I got the staples I needed and then ran into someone I knew and we started to talk. Afterwards, I headed straight for the checkout counter because I thought I had finished shopping. As I was pushing my cart down the aisle, I glanced to my left and just happened to notice some extension cords. At that point the thought went through my head, “Wait a minute! I thought I would remember that!” I pulled my list from my pocket and sure enough, the one item that I had not yet gotten was an extension cord. I breathed a sigh of relief, reached over and picked one up, put it in my cart, and checked out.
Now you might be sitting there saying, “Well, that is just your problem because you have such a short attention span.” Oh, yeah? Let me give you some other examples that have happened in my world the last few days.
On Saturday I was in the checkout line at the grocery store when the guy in front of me picked up two of his bags of groceries but left his third bag sitting on the counter. As the checkout clerk was ringing up my items he looked at me and asked, “Are those yours?” When I told him they were not mine, he quickly ran to the door, and chased the guy down in the parking lot to tell him that he had left his groceries in the store. The man came back into the store, got his third bag and thanked the clerk for chasing him down. I thought to myself, “That’s amazing! He came to the grocery store to buy some groceries and forgot his groceries!” I am not picking on him. I am just trying to reinforce the importance of this Tip.
Another example happened right here in our office. We recently wrote new and updated descriptions of all our products so that we could correctly describe them for our customers. One of my assistants printed all of the product pages for me to review. As I was reviewing them, I noticed that one of the products was missing all kinds of information. When I asked her about it she said, “I don’t know how that happened.” Technological glitches are certainly possible, but the point is she needed to remember to actually look at it after it was printed to make sure that it printed correctly on the paper.
In yet one more instance another of our assistants faxed some information to another company. She failed to realize, however, that it was a long-distance number and did not dial a 1 before entering the rest of the number and sending the fax. The fax confirmation sheet had a “NG” written on it, which stands for “Not Good”, but because our assistant failed to check the sheet, she did not realize that the transmission had not gone through.
Please understand, I am not belittling anyone. I believe I have one of the best team of workers in the world. We believe what we teach and practice it daily. Yet, we still make mistakes. What I am trying to tell you is we are on this journey called life with you!
Recently, my daughter, Esther, and her husband were going on a trip and she wanted to borrow an air pump of mine to take with them. I took it to her at her office Friday morning in a bag. I hung it on the door knob of her office door and said to her, “Here it is!” I wanted her know that I had remembered it. She thanked me for bringing it.
That afternoon she called me after she was already on the road to ask where I had put it. She could not find it in her car! When I reminded her it was on the door knob, she jokingly proceeded to blame me for her forgetting it! One of her friends was also going on the trip and was able to go by the office to pick it up, so all ended well and we were able to laugh about it.
I could name a hundred stories like these. I am not trying to pick on anyone. I am not trying to blame anyone. I am simply seeking to help us all open our eyes to stop trusting our memory and to start paying closer attention to what we are doing. Remember, the point of this Tip is “finer distinctions”. It only takes a little extra effort to be certain that what we are doing is actually correct, right and complete.
Remember what I said earlier? Two of the most fatal words anyone could ever say are, “I’ll remember.” Therefore, the two best words that a person could ever say would be, “I double-checked.” In that manner I would actually check my list to see if I got the extension cord. The guy at the grocery store would check to see if he got his groceries. The secretary would check to see that the printing actually occurred on the paper. The assistant would actually check to see that the fax went through and Esther would have remembered the air pump. All of those examples are what I mean about being careful to remember what we are doing!
Airline pilots are required by law to have a Standard Operating Procedures list (SOP) that they must actually look at and check off each time before a flight departs. Although most pilots are brilliant, it is just one final check-list to make sure that everything is secure. If they would naturally remember everything, after doing if for thousands of times, then why is it a required policy?
One last example…I recently got a wedding invitation which told me who was getting married, the time of the wedding, and the location of the wedding. The only thing they forgot to put on the announcement was the date of the wedding! A few days later, I received a letter apologizing for the oversight with the date added. I thought to myself, “Someone just did not double-check that before it was mailed out.” I also wondered what the added expense, time, effort and trouble ended up costing.
If you think this Tip is silly, then please disregard it. But, if you see the wisdom and value of this Tip, then it will actually raise your ability to see “finer distinctions” and take you to a whole new level. That is what I want in my life, don’t you?
Tip: Remember to actually remember what you are doing!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm