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Some say that paying attention to small things make big things happen. And while you may not be able to get everything perfect, paying attention to the details is where you make something great.

Details are more important than time. And when you focus on one spot at a time, you learn more in your tasks (and act greater). Details make perfection and it’s worth waiting to get something right.

In this episode, you’ll learn why attention to details makes all the difference in your success.

Show Highlights Include:

  • Why a painter, pastor, and football coach all focus on the details to accomplish great things. (1:00)
  • How to have Picasso Precision for everything you do in life. (4:00)
  • How to keep every detail in sync and win championships like Vince Lombardi and John Madden. (6:52)
  • The Mindcraft Mentality for remaining faithful to details (and wherever they may lead). (11:55)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thanks so much for listening today. I want to talk about details and why attention to details can make all the difference in the world.

You talk to anyone who has attained any level of success in any arena, they tell you that attention to details is the trademark of excellence. Over the years, I've loved learning about that Italian inventor, artist, architect, mathematician, and scientist, Leonardo da Vinci. That's right, the Renaissance man. He once said, “Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail.” [01:05.0]

But perfection is rarely attainable, but if your aim is that high, just imagine what you'll accomplish. Motivational speaker, Chris Denny, put it this way. Attention to detail is about excellence. It is about constantly improving. Legendary basketball coach. John Wooden, would agree. He said details are vital because little things make big things happen.

This statement was echoed by the founder of Apple, the late Steve Jobs, who said, “Details matter, it's worth waiting to get it right.” Sir Richard Branson would also agree with that. The founder of Virgin airlines once said, when you focus on the little things, you create “a culture of attention to detail.”

Pastor Chuck Swindoll, one of the great pastors in America, once said that attention to detail is the difference between something good and something great.

Even famous bank robber, “Slick Willie” Sutton once said that regardless of the endeavor, success requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration. [02:03.7]

Attention to detail can be defined as being thorough in accomplishing a task with concern for all areas involved no matter how small, and people reflect this quality in a variety of ways, most notably in the performance of duties.

I have a friend whose father built a dry-cleaning empire from the ground up. That back in the 1960s in Houston, Tex., no small feat for an African-American business owner who was not able to secure a loan with any local bank. As it turned out, he would repair discarded cleaning equipment and, according to his son, built his business by focusing on one spot at a time. That's right. He focused on cleaning one spot at a time. [03:14.5]

Now, you might think this is a small thing, but Eli Jones, Sr., put all of his children through college, including my friend, El, Jr., his son. By the way, Eli, Jr., is the former dean of the College of Business at Texas A&M University. Because the elder Jones paid attention to details, years later, he sold this business to a major chain for a lucrative price.

My father, Roger Rigsby, was cut from the very same cloth as Mr. Jones. My dad, the wisest man I've ever met in my life, once told me, “Son, if you're going to do a job, do it to the very best of your ability.” Translation: details make the difference. [04:02.0]

My father was a line cook at California Maritime Academy in Northern California. This is a college that, to this day, trains men and women for careers in the maritime business. Now, my father was not a trained culinary chef. He was a cook, a simple cook, but you would have thought he was a chef.

There would always be functions at the academy that required the preparation of food, and when that prep work occurred on the weekends, sometimes I got a chance to be with my dad. He even would let me do odd jobs like peeling potatoes or taking out the trash. But you know what I did most? I watched. I observed.

I observed a man who would make potato salad for 200 people with the precision of a Picasso. I watched a man who took such pride in his work that details became more important than time or convenience. There were no shortcuts with my father. He hammered that into my head. “Son, if you're going to do a job, it's worthy of being done correctly,” he would say. [05:10.8]

I didn't really like hearing that when I was a child, but today it brings tears to my eyes. In fact, I tend to gravitate towards stories about those whose painstaking efforts during the mundane episodes of life produce seismic results. Here's one of those stories, but first a bit of background as to why I appreciate this particular person in this story.

The background. I was blessed during my time at Texas A&M University, not to just teach in the college of communications, but to be on the staff of legendary football coach, R. C. Slocum. I was first his team chaplain. Then Coach Slocum hired me as life skills coordinator, teaching life skills to football players, life skills rooted in character and common sense. [06:04.5]

Coach Slocum, in my opinion, was years ahead of his time. You see, back in the ’90s, we never heard of a life skills coach for an athletic team, but Coach realized that his legacy would not be based on wins or losses, but on how his players turned out.

Here's the point. For years in that capacity on Coach Slocum’s staff, I had a front-row seat watching some of the nation's best assistant college football coaches go about their jobs from staff meetings in the morning to afternoon prep practices. I saw one thing every day. The greater attention to detail and preparation, the greater the outcome on the field.

Now the story about a guy whose attention to detail has been impacting the world for generations. Most of you are familiar with the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi. When he arrived in Green Bay in 1959, he inherited a team loaded with future Hall of Famers, but they were not winners. They could not win. [07:11.7]

The very first speech Lombardi gave in 1959 was simply a preview of coming attractions. He gathered the players around him and he said, quote, “Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full we’ll never reach it, but we shall relentlessly chase perfection, and in the process, we'll catch excellence,” end quote.

Implicit in that speech was the notion that winning is not a sometime thing. Winning is everything and you win when you pay attention to every single detail—and, boy, that they win. In the 1960s, the Green Bay Packers won three consecutive world championships before there was even a Super Bowl. [08:00.7]

Then, once the AFL merged with the NFL, Lombardi won two more championships, two more Super Bowl championships. That's five championships in seven years. Perhaps that's the reason many regard Lombardi as the greatest football coach ever. Perhaps that's the reason Green Bay is called Titletown U.S.A. Perhaps that's the reason the Super Bowl Trophy is called the Lombardi Trophy.

But here's what you may not know. Lombardi's work ethic was relentless, something he first learned from his father, a meat cutter in a meat-packing house in New York. His father worked hard and expected the very same from his children who joined him in the packing house that work ethic was ingrained in Vince a few years later. [08:55.4]

After his playing career at Fordham University, Lombardi began his coaching career in the high school ranks. He eventually moved to the collegiate level, first stop, his alma mater, and then later Lombardi would land the job that taught him the most about football. The year was 1949 and the great “Red” Blaik, Army's head coach at West Point, was one of, if not the best college football coach in America.

It was under Blaik that Lombardi learned the true value of paying attention to details. Lombardi said that under Blaik, he learned organization of practices, organization of thinking, the breaking down of game film. He followed Blaik's painstaking approach to every single detail.

All this prepared Lombardi for a professional career that places him among the game’s elite. One example of Lombardi's attention to detail impacted another future Hall of Famer, a man by the name of John Madden. [10:01.7]

You see, friends, before Madden was the premier name on the NFL's most popular video game, before he was a star NFL broadcaster, Madden was a pretty good football coach. In fact, for years, he was the head coach for the Oakland Raiders.

Madden tells the story of going to a coaches' clinic where Lombardi was the speaker. At this time, Madden was a junior college coach and, by his own words, he thought he knew everything about football. He shows up at the clinic and he sits in the very back of the room, but something happened and Madden never left.

Madden said, Coach Lombardi talked about one play for eight hours. One play. He talked for four hours, took a break, and talked for four more hours. That one play, the Green Bay power sweep. Madden said, after that session, he realized that he knew absolutely nothing about football. [11:03.0]

The year was 1962 and the Green Bay Packers had perfected the Green Bay power sweep, losing only one game that year. The Green Bay power sweep, metaphorically, Lombardi's career in one play. The artistry of a beautifully-designed play, the precision required of players, that captivating orchestration when the play runs with excellence, the design of a play where every movement, every step, every detail is in perfect sync—all this because Lombardi chose to be a student of details and he learned from Coach Blaik that attention to details wins championships.

Friends, you don't have to be famous to get those kinds of results. You don't even have to be experienced. Our youngest son is barely 21 years of age. He's an architecture major in college and some of his model designs just blow my mind. [12:10.0]

My wife recently reminded me that our son developed his attention to detail throughout childhood by playing countless hours of a video game called Minecraft. My wife reminded me that our son spent months and years building homes and structures, and communities and worlds, all through a sandbox video game.

What we didn't realize at the time was that our son was learning a powerful lesson that will serve him all throughout his career and throughout his life—that lesson: attention to details can make all the difference in the world.

What are you offering your attention to today? Why not consider focusing on the details, even in the simple and mundane routines of life. You just never know where those details may lead. [13:07.5]

That's going to do it for this episode. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick, asking the most important question I can ask, how ya livin’?

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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