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Slightness Between Good & Great

Slightness Between Good & Great

Hello and good day!

Here is something that I wish I'd learned earlier in life.  There isn't much difference in effort between good and great.

There is a wide gap between terrible and good.

But between good and great, there isn't very much space. That is my opinion. Here is an example of what I am talking about.

You go to a big store like Home Depot. It is a good place no matter what. Actually, it is a marvel. There are so many products just sitting there. They've been manufactured and shipped from all over the world and all you have to do is walk in and take what you need.

If you have the proper perspective, you realize that there really shouldn't be an awful experience in Home Depot. The place borders on miraculous. To get something like the Home Depot up and running is a gargantuan task that requires a ton of capital and man hours and intelligence.

The difference between nothing and something is vast. But the difference between good and great is relatively very small.

If you walk into the Home Depot and an associate comes right up to you, asks you what you're looking for, and then with a smile takes you directly to the product you want, the experience is phenomenal. If the cashier is also very friendly and efficient, you walk out of there with your mind blown, ready to rave about what a good job they did. In comparison with the time and energy it took to build the Home Depot and stock it with inventory, a 30 second interaction is miniscule.

However, it can make a big difference. Here is another example.

It embarrasses my kids, but I pick up trash off the ground just about everywhere I go. Did you ever notice how one piece of trash can ruin a big, beautiful landscape?

On our last trip to Peru, my family and I, along with my father-in-law, hiked out to a swimming hole with a waterfall. It was a long, breathtaking hike. There were lush, green mountains all around us as we walked through a picturesque valley on our way to the lake. As we neared the lake, we could hear the river flowing and the waterfall crashing.

We started to get excited. A swimming lake with a waterfall in Peru isn't something you get to visit every day. But when we showed up, there was a big two-liter Coca Cola bottle floating in the lake. It didn't completely ruin the experience, but it certainly took some shine off it.

We couldn't fish the bottle out either because it was circling around the waterfall and none of us wanted to swim that close to the gushing water. Everything else was grand and if the people who swam before us would have been just a bit more conscientious, it could have been perfect.

I couldn't take my eyes off that dang thing. Even as I think about it now, it torments me. I can easily recreate the bothersome anxiety I felt just by remembering it.

But I digress.

What is the difference between getting an A or a B in school? I've thought about this quite a bit. In high school, I earned what educational experts call "Gentleman's Bs". I did the homework mindlessly, but at least I turned something in. I skated through tests on what I remembered from the homework, which was the minimum needed to complete the assignment.

Nobody is going to complain about a B. You've done well enough. You can show your face around town with Bs. However, if you're really honest with yourself, you know you shouldn't be proud of a B.

The difference between a B and a F is large. But to get to an A from a B requires a small amount of extra work.

I know this because I was an A student in college, and I learned that all it took was an extra 15 minutes on each assignment to really polish it up and make it good. To get an A on a test, you usually just need to do one more pass over the material to lock it in. And the feeling you get from being an A student makes the extra effort very much worth it.

You get a big reward for just a little bit more work.

My motivation for doing better in college, by the way, was a group of high achieving friends. I don't know how I fell in with these guys, but they were all A students and I felt like a loser around them if I didn't achieve at the same level.

As it pertains to making high quality chocolate, the devil is really in the details.

In the part of the process at which we've become experts, the post-harvest processing of cacao, there are several little leverage points that determine how good the final product will be.

In this case, the work is just as hard whether you do it well or not. No matter what, fermenting cacao is hot and acidic and vinegary. It burns your eyes and nostrils when you work with it.

Since we were putting ourselves through all the hardship anyways, it made sense to learn how to do it right. But we had a knowledge gap. We could have persisted in our ignorance.

Instead, we sought out guidance from somebody with experience and they put us on the right track. Once we had the correct concepts, we were able to improve on them until the results were excellent. Without that little bit of extra research though, we never would have broken through.

Thankfully, my brother Brian is a perfectionist who doesn't settle for a Gentleman's B on anything, and he was determined to find the answer.

Now that I am aware of the small difference between good and great, I always keep my eyes and ears open for the details that will push things over the top.

It could be as simple as sweeping the floor. Have you ever seen a perfectly clean room with an unswept floor? It doesn't matter how shiny the counters are, or how immaculately set the table is, if the floor has debris on it.

I think that this lesson is especially good for youngsters. Just a little bit of extra effort and care is a big deal.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!