I recall sitting in my third-grade classroom, looking at the other children sitting at their classroom desks and lazily wondering just what the critical differential was between poor, fair, good, excellent and superior outcomes.
As fate would have it, some workmen were replacing drywall in our classroom that very day and I was immediately struck by how quickly the wall was going up with visible measures and cuts without particularly exacting precision.
It was always a matter of great speculation for me about why some people seemed to perform better than others even when they appeared less natively gifted while others who had lots of talent sometimes performed less-well.
So during recess, I approached one of the workmen and asked, “Why are you cutting the drywall so quickly without double-checking the accuracy of the measures and cuts?” Whereupon he said, “That’s what trim’s for, kid. Now go away.”
Hmm, I thought! Trim (or the molding that is often decoratively used to finish-off drywall) serves to conceal errors while providing adornment for non-critical mistakes, which suggests that one doesn’t always have to be so perfect.
However, what would it take for the end-result of any work-product to be better or, in other words, to go from poor to fair, from fair to good, from good to excellent and from excellent to superior?
Then, as if by magic, a lightning bolt of insight presented itself with an unrelenting jolt of awareness that the critical difference was “just this much.”
If you place your thumb and forefinger together and then separate the two fingers so as to allow the tiniest bit of light to barely pass through, perhaps 1/64th of an inch or so, then you will see exactly what “just this much” represents.
In each and every endeavor, a commitment to doing “just this much” different or better or more, or sometimes less, is the “just this much” differential which can make or break the success or failure of an outcome-able result.
I am reminded of the post-Great Depression era old-timers who would provide me free advice that I would be well-advised to take great pride in whatever I did inclusive of digging a ditch, shoveling manure or doing anything else.
The qualitative differential between poor and fair is the same differential as between fair and good is the same differential as between good and excellent is the same differential as between excellent and superior...
“Just this much!”
Author Note: Dr. Larry B. Gelman is a Clinical Psychologist and a Personal Mentor
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