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100DC Day 85: Do It Right the 1st Time

100 Day Challenge: Do It Right the 1st TimeTwo days after Sam got his PhD, Sam, Jessica, Belinda, and I, moved to Boca Raton, Florida, for our first post-college shot at the real world.

We rented a three bedroom townhouse, moved in our first set of real furniture, and started saving up for our first home.

We slept in the master bedroom with the girls in the adjacent, upstairs bedroom. The downstairs bedroom became my office and we lined the walls with track shelving to contain our already burgeoning books collection.

One day, as the girls napped and I worked on the computer, I heard a snap. A split second later an entire section of the shelves came crashing down…on my head.

We learned a lesson that day that we’ve never forgotten. If you’re going to undertake a task, do it right the first time.

This is not to be confused with”if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Not everything is worth doing well. If you’re making a note to tape on the door to inform the neighbor kids you’ve moved the basketball game from your driveway to the gym down the street because of the snow, you don’t need to spend 30 minutes crafting a perfectly lettered banner. But everything is worth doing right.

Deciding what is “right” for a given task includes evaluating the circumstances, purpose, required longevity, etc. In that context, doing something “right” means:

  1. Recognizing the high cost of mistakes and quality issues
  2. Continuously thinking of the places where flaws occur in your performance or method
  3. Work proactively to address the flaws in your systems and behaviors

In other words, don’t look for perfect systems, methods, or behaviors. Look at those that solve problems most efficiently and effectively, considering the long-term. If the  path leads to failure, it will be costly.

Failure is more expensive in terms of time, resources, and emotional energy.

Have you ever thought about how failure decreases your credibility? A few weeks ago, I told you about our Ace Transmission debacle. The owner might be a perfectly good mechanic, but his double failure means he lost a customer for good. And not only did he lose the chance to get positive referrals, but he incurred negative reviews.

Your credibility decreases with each failure, making it more difficult to succeed the next time!

Last night Sam and I saw a movie called Jack Reacher. In one scene a young woman approaches Jack and propositions him. He turns her down, but later talks to her about the behavior. She responds with something like, “That’s what girls like me do.”

Your reputation becomes contaminated with both yourself and others, which leads to lost future opportunities.

When did she decide she was a girl like that? When did her own definition of herself become someone with loose morals who sleeps around? She wasn’t born that way? For most of us, the way we see ourselves is based on our own past behavior. We are immoral, unreliable, fat, organized, prompt, irresponsible, caring, lazy, or determined, not based on some inherent, inborn trait, but because of the behaviors we’ve chosen most often in the past.

Doing things “right” — the first time and every time — changes how we see ourselves and how others see us. We can become the person we’d like to be — with every imaginable positive qualifier, if we choose behaviors that promote those character traits.

Join me in the 100 Day Challenge!

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • JenR March 26, 2013, 6:33 pm

    I’m always in such a hurry and cut corners. That usually means I have to do things again. It costs more time and more money. Lesson I need to learn.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 27, 2013, 7:12 am

    I know! I learned this from my husband. He’s a great example of someone who’s always careful (now) to do things the right way!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 93: Keep Your PromisesMy Profile

  • FunBuns April 3, 2013, 10:32 am

    My husband is a perfectionist. I’m trying to get him to do things just a little bit wrong. 😉

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