Of Pianos and Perserverance
- Providing outcomes that represent the best efforts for the task at hand
- Going the extra mile to deliver completed assignments to co-workers and customers
- Refusing to be satisfied with incomplete or inferior work
“I want to do a good job. Seriously. I want to do it well. I want to fulfill my responsibilities effectively, to the best of my God-given ability, and in a manner that meets or exceeds the needs of others. And, as a bonus, it would be great if my parents could be proud of me, too!
It’s a simple desire, and it’s not particularly novel or unique to me. But why, then, as basic as it seems, is achieving this goal so elusive at times? Am I the only one, or does it just seem at times really hard to do things well? I want to do well, but more times than I care to admit I fall short of where I’d like to be.
What’s the solution to this mystery? I think part of the answer is found in this week’s Funds For Learning GuideMark: Your Best Work Forward. One way to do a good job is to keep on doing, refusing to be satisfied with incomplete or inferior work. It means not stopping or giving up the first time that something doesn’t work out so well. Or the second time. Or the third.
Doing things well is a function of endurance and perseverance more than any other factors. Let me illustrate for you. Assume you want to be a skilled pianist. You have never played a piano before, but you feel compelled to start. You sit down at the piano and play it once. What are the chances that you will play a beautiful melody that first time? They are pretty slim. It might happen, maybe it has, but it is unlikely. Chances are, you will sit down to the piano and make noises, not music.
Now, fast forward into the future. You’ve practiced playing the piano more than 5,000 times. You sit down at the piano and play. What sounds do you hear coming from the piano? I bet it is fantastic.
What made the difference between session #1 and session #5000? Answer: Not giving up. Trying again. Refusing to be satisfied with mediocre. Pressing on. Practice. Those make the difference. Is natural talent necessary? Of course. Are there limits to our abilities to do a good job? You bet. But there is no doubt in my mind that the version of you that has practiced the piano 5,000 times is making much better music than the one who is sitting down for the first time in front of that keyboard.
Maybe you think the piano example doesn’t apply to you; but trying a little harder and going a little further before you quit applies to almost every aspect of our lives. Here is a completely different example that illustrates the same truth: hand-washing! Do you know that most people wash their hands an average of only 11 seconds? That’s not very long. Most experts agree that we should wash our hands vigorously for 20 seconds in order to get them clean.
I bet you didn’t see this example coming, did you? Do you want to talk about doing a good job? Forget practicing the piano for 20 years. Who’s going to do that, anyway? Let’s talk about washing your hands for 20 seconds. As we head into the cold and flu season, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your coworkers is to wash your hands well. In this case, doing a good job means pushing yourself from 11 seconds to 20 seconds of hand washing. That’s all. It doesn’t seem like much of a price to pay for one of most effective guards against illness this winter. Push yourself a little further. Don’t stop at 11 seconds. Wash your hands the full 20 seconds and you will be doing yourself and everyone else around you a big favor.
We are all made differently and we all can’t do everything well. Nevertheless, I am convinced that doing a job well requires, more than anything else, just doing it again and/or for a little bit longer. Perhaps even more than raw talent, doing our best is found simply in not stopping.
I want to manage my responsibilities well. I want to do a good job. This means that when I fall short, or if don’t met expectations, that I won’t quit trying. I will try again and I will keep striving to put my Best Work Forward.
Key Words and Phrases
Excellence; Greatest degree of good; Maximum effort; Highest quality service; Do your best; Top performance; Finest; Complete, lacking in nothing.
Lacking; Incomplete; Unprepared; Shoddy.
GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides
Copyright © 2016 Funds For Learning, LLC. About the Funds For Learning GuideMarks.
- May 29, 2016 - Timeliness
- June 5, 2016 - Focus
- June 12, 2016 - Professionalism
- June 19, 2016 - Solution-Minded
- June 26, 2016 - Work By Design
- July 3, 2016 - Neatness Counts
- July 10, 2016 - Share the Reason
- July 17, 2016 - Understand the Reason
- July 24, 2016 - Intentional Learning
- July 31, 2016 - Calming Presence
- August 7, 2016 - Commitment
- August 14, 2016 - Reliability
- August 21, 2016 - Proactive
- August 28, 2016 - Offer No Excuses
- September 4, 2016 - Teamwork
- September 12, 2016 - Thoroughness
- September 19, 2016 - Reinforce the Good