“Discipline is based on meticulous attention to details” (Gary Blair).

IF YOU CALLED A FRIEND “METICULOUS,” THEY MIGHT TAKE IT AS A CRITICISM RATHER THAN A COMPLIMENT. The word just means that one has a “careful regard for details,” but most people use it to mean pickiness or excessive regard for details. Yet meticulous can also mean constructively careful, and in all of the more important areas of life, we understand that carefulness is a positive trait. You may poke fun at a friend for being picky, but you probably don’t want your architect, your accountant, or your anesthesiologist to have anything less than a “careful regard for details.” Being meticulous is good, isn’t it?

As Gary Blair points out, “Discipline is based on meticulous attention to details.” Granted some people spend so much time on details that they forget the purpose of what they are doing (they “can’t see the forest for the trees”), but many others fail to achieve excellence in their activities because they are undisciplined in dealing with the details. It is well and good to contemplate the big picture, but if we never get around to working carefully on the details, then the big picture is probably not going to be realized. Perhaps you had a grandfather who told you, “If you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.” Your grandfather was right.

Some people shy away from being meticulous because they fear it will inhibit their freedom. They think that if the details are planned too specifically, they won’t be able to be spontaneous. But genuinely meticulous people are not uptight and rigid. In fact, it is attention to detail that enables us to be truly free in our choices. For example, if I have planned a trip with attention to detail, that planning will help me rather than hinder me. If I need to change plans spontaneously, I can do that more easily than the person who didn’t do his homework. Almost always, meticulous people have more options.

Other people suppose that they’re too busy doing important things to worry about details. But experience has probably taught most of us that we can’t be negligent in the small matters of daily living and still shine when the big occasions come along. So the more important our goals are, the more it helps us to be meticulous.

“He that would climb the tree must take care o’ his grip” (Scottish Proverb).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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