Skill is the Sum of Small Details

Many people, when they almost succeed but don’t because of a small detail, downplay the small detail’s role as a reflection of a lack of skill.  Instead, they claim to have the skills necessary to succeed but that they were unlucky.  The chance of that small detail occurring was too small to warrant preparing for, and therefore they have the skill to succeed in most cases.  

To that I say: Yes, you have the skill to achieve in most cases, but it is important to note that experienced professionals take care of the small details and can succeed in more than most cases. In fact, that’s what you pay them for, and that’s where they demonstrate their experience and skill: in their ability to handle the small details.  Anyone can follow a recipe and cook an egg, but it is in the small details of how you execute each step that a professional chef can be distinguished from an amateur cook.  To explain it another way: the more times you follow the same recipe, the more chances you have of making mistakes, and the more chances you have of gaining experience on how to correct the mistakes that you see happening.  Therefore, an experienced cook following the same recipe as an amateur cook will cook a better meal because when a “small detail” comes up, the experienced cook will know how to take care of the small detail while the amateur will not.

Therefore, if you seek to become truly skilled, it is not right to distance yourself from responsibility and place blame on the small detail.  Rather, take responsibility for the small details since they have significant enough impacts to cause you to fail.  Think about that last statement: if the detail was important enough to cause you to fail, doesn’t that make it a rather important detail and not a small one?  As such, there is no such thing as a small detail: if it impacts the outcome, it is a major detail that you over looked and should plan for and protect against in the future.   What is skill but the culmination of a bunch of small details?

This post is part of AttemptedLiving’s Life Education Curriculum, a collection of core knowledge everyone should have.  See the “Life Philosophy” section.

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