One thing I hated most while growing up was my dad’s attention to detail. He saw everything. He told my brothers and I, “If you do it right the first time, you only have to do it once” and he meant it. It didn’t matter if it took 100 tries to get something right, he was a man of his word and he held us accountable to doing things correctly. But of course, like many other valuable lessons I was taught as a kid, I never appreciated their value until much later in life. I cut corners when it came to my chores and homework so I could race off to hang with friends or play video games and it worked! Or so I thought. It never failed, I would rush through something and be ecstatic for how quickly I was done and he would drag me back home to start all over again. As a kid, I hated it, but as an adult now, I couldn’t be more grateful of this lesson and here’s why….
Attention to detail is what separates the truly passionate from the rest of the world. My attention to detail in the military proved pivotal in the success I found. It’s easy to breeze through the boring stuff in life blinded by the excitement ahead, but attention to detail is critical in long term success. As boring as the minute details of life can be, cutting corners bites you in the ass in the long run. I truly believe that what separates the truly great from the rest of the world is the willingness to do what nobody else wants too, the dedication to put in the work that is too hard for everyone else and most importantly, to focus on the details that most people overlook.
I truly came to appreciate the value of doing things right the first time when Kelsey Rose and I had our first home built. Building a house is very exciting but also very stressful at the same time. There are so many moving pieces that it’s natural to become frustrated with the details and anxiously await the finished project. What I came to realize very quickly throughout the building process was that not everyone in this world shares my fathers appreciation for details. The building manager was incredible, but his sub-contractors had built over 200 very similar houses in our development and it was rather evident that complacency was setting in. The dry wall had cracks, the painters rushed through and botched corners, and the cabinets weren’t straight, but it wasn’t just the workers who grew impatient.
Kelsey Rose and I were so excited for the house to be finished that we struggled to appreciate the valuable lessons that were unfolding right in front of us. I learned the value of patience and that everything great in life has a process and takes time. I learned that each member of a team has their individual purpose and role, and even the smallest details can have the biggest impact on the finished project. Most importantly, I learned that nothing great in life is done alone. As frustrated as I became with making constant demands for the work to be re-done the correct way, I remembered my fathers words so many years ago:
If you do it right the first time, you only have to do it once.
If you rush through things in pursuit of the finished project, important details are often overlooked. Yes, you might accomplish your goal sooner but often times, you’ll realize something is missing; the foundation. You’ll eventually have to go back and redo something you missed along the way. Whether your are building a house or a life for yourself, the same is true. Details matter. Everything matters. They may slow us down at times but that’s because life has a process. Rushing through life just makes more work for us down the road.
If you do it right the first time, you only have to do it once. Take the time to appreciate the opportunity to do things right. Trust that life has a process and that things happen in order for a reason. Pay attention to the small things and don’t cut corners. Nobody likes to admit their parents were right but as I grow older I am quickly realizing just how wise they were.
By: Timothy A. Natale
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