“Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle,” said Michelangelo. On the other hand, Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I’ve asked before, are you seeking perfection or excellence? There’s only one answer that’s realistic.
Perfection is a noble goal, but impractical. Especially since none of us are Michelangelo. There are too many variables outside of your control. Yet often enough, if we focus on excellence, perfection comes as a side benefit. Especially if we’re paying attention to the trifles.
My point is this: don’t neglect the little things. Especially if you have a small busienss. Along with your big goals, keep setting small ones. Most likely, the general public will never notice. (Because, let’s face it, the general public isn’t very detail-oriented.) But you – and a few select others – will notice something, and it will be worth your effort, because it will set you apart.
This might mean doing more than expected. Delivering more than you promised is always a good thing in business. It’s probably not a bad thing when we’re talking about family and friends, either. Pay attention, connect the dots, and figure out how to help people instead of passing the buck (or the blame). Break a rule and make exceptions for exceptional circumstances once in a while.
It might mean upgrading your identity. In an age when even textbooks have inexplicable spelling and grammar errors (“Ocean’s Razor” in a recent college-level economics text, for example), set yourself above the mainstream with impeccable spelling, grammar, neatness, and coherence. Become known for the utmost professionalism. Upgrade your expectations and your reality will follow.
It might be as simple as aesthetics. Napkins in the drive-through bag are fine, but expected. When the kid at the window takes the time to wipe the dribbles off the cup before handing it out, that’s a detail that makes a positive difference. The reason half of all customers return (or don’t) to make a purchase is aesthetics. Clean? Visually appealing? Attention to detail?
Set those small goals. Reach them, repeat them, and then do more. The little things may make all the difference.
P.S. Questions? Comments? Your next small goal? Share! It’s what that rectangle box below is for – take advantage of it!