​​​​​​THOROUGHNESS
  • Applying rigorous attention to accuracy and detail
  • Understanding the full scope of an assignment and seeing it through to completion
  • Working to the best of my ability in a comprehensive, correct and timely manner
COMMENTARY:
My father-in-law gifted me with a Swiss Army knife for Christmas. I have never been much of a pocket knife kind of guy, but I have carried it in my pocket every day since receipt. While I haven’t had many opportunities to use it much (I have, however, managed to cut myself twice), I still marvel at the design of the knife. Obviously, there is a knife, but there is also a toothpick… and tweezers… and three screwdrivers… and a bottle opener… and a can opener… and nail file… and something that looks like a letter opener. And though it contains all of these different elements, it is still barely wider and deeper than my cell phone. It packs a lot of useful stuff in one package. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the knife lately -- about the ingenuity of creating a tool that can conveniently carry all of these items yet remained a size that one could easily carry in their pocket. After some in-depth research (i.e. Wikipedia) I can confirm that its development did not simply come from bolting together several different tools. Each component was included for a very specific purpose and their joining required a thorough precision and attention to detail.  Every component had a place and size limitations. If any were oversized or misaligned, the tool would not be effective or practical for use. The creation of the Swiss Army knife required a full understanding of what components were needed and rigorous attention to detail. 
 
While creating an E-rate application and building a Swiss Army knife aren’t exactly the same thing, there are parallels that highlight the need for thoroughness. 
 
Like the Swiss Army knife, I must understand the full-scope of needs. Victorinox doesn’t make a Swiss Army knife that includes a USB, cigar cutter, ink pen, (ok, wow -- there are a lot of different tools available), pill holder – not because pill holders aren’t handy, but because that would be impractical for the tool and likely require a change in size and design that might eliminate more critical pieces. And like trying to cram a pill holder into a Swiss Army knife, if I were to ignore the needs of an applicant and include things that thought would be handy, I would likely miss the items that were critical to an applicant’s ability to receive Internet access. 
 
Also, like the Swiss Army knife, I need to be precise. If I were to bend one of the blades of my knife, it would no longer close or, if I were able to forcibly close it, the other items may not re-open. It is not enough to be accurate on a Form 471, I need to be precise or I risk messing it up for all the potential services/equipment. The addresses, student counts, sites, SPINs, amounts, dates, contracts, etc. all need to be precise and correct. 
 
Sometimes writing closings can be tough. I want to end with something smart and clever, or at least pithy, that puts a nice little, yet memorable, bow on this blog. However, nothing is coming to mind except a movie called Swiss Army Man in which Daniel Radcliffe plays a flatulent corpse. It’s like Harry Potter the Farting Zombie – and I am glad that I finally worked that phrase into the annals of Funds For Learning. Follow your dreams, kids. 
 
…And be thorough. 

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Key Words and Phrases
Carried through to completion; Rigorous and exhaustive; Fully developed in all aspects; Having full mastery; Leaving no stone unturned; Painstakingly careful; Seeing it through to the end; Touching all bases; Meticulous, with great care; Attentive to accuracy and detail.

Opposite Terms
Shoddy; Superficial; Partial; Incomplete; Lacking.
 
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