When I was a kid, part of my household responsibilities, along with my brother, was doing the dishes after dinner. Of course, as kids that’s the last thing we wanted to do, so often we would work through it quickly, with no attention to detail, as though the goal was completion of the task, not actually hygienically clean dishes. What puzzles me more when I reflect on this part of my childhood, was the fact that I was that kid who couldn’t bear a spec or spot on my plate or cup. I didn’t see the irony in it though, somehow there was a disconnect between my hyper-sensitive requirement for perfectly sanitary conditions and my lackadaisical approach to sanitizing those same items.
It was always the most stressful part of the experience when our work would be scrutinized and evaluated upon our triumphant declaration of “we’re finished.” For some reason, ‘completion’ had a different meaning to my military dad; we were tasked with doing the dishes, and for us, that’s what we did, but in dad’s more complete perspective, it also meant wiping down the table, counters and stove, and making sure the sink was not filled with debris. It probably took me years to understand that a job that was done to a ‘good enough’ standard, was probably not done well at all.
Many people find satisfaction in simply accomplishing their tasks as rapidly as possible, with the measure of success being the conclusion of it. But, most of us have enough experience to realize that quality of work saves time, effort and money in the long run. Excellence is always rewarded, but requires a higher standard, attention to detail, better quality of materials, and careful planning and execution.
These days, people have a strange sense of entitlement for their incomplete or faulty workmanship, they not only expect payment, but they want a pat on the back and a little party too. If you’ve ever read one of my articles, you might be able to predict where I’m going to go with this. I think that whatever dissatisfaction I have or frustrating trends I see with our society, the solution to it begins with a good look in the mirror, and a regrouping of my own standards.
To expect excellence, I need to be excellent, portray excellence, model and teach excellence. I believe that a world where ‘a job well done’ trumps ‘good enough,’ is a world of greater personal satisfaction and reward, and a world where everyone else is satisfied too.