Dear God, I'm Tired

I performed a brutal brush cutting-landscaping chore this morning in 90-degree heat. I truly pushed my ancient body to the limit and beyond.

But I got it done.
Or did I?

As I packed up my tools, I took a final look at what I'd done. Fine and dandy, but it was still a tiny-tiny-bit ragged here and there. Problem was, in the literal sense I didn't have an ounce of energy left. "F%^# it, I'll get it later" I said to myself and turned on the engine of my 4-wheel-drive Kubota.

I sat there a minute, dripping with sweat, and then I turned off the engine. With every muscle screaming in agony (I do not exaggerate—or so it feels), I got out of the Kubota, gathered a couple of tools, and spent the next 20 minutes doing that final touch on the job—and then just a little more, and a little more.

While the vignette is unmistakably self-serving, it is also one of those "reminders of the obvious" worth reminding you of. Namely, one cannot overestimate, in, say, our project work "the last two-percenter." That person who, at 2 a.m. takes one final look at the presentation to the Board tomorrow, and discovers that two key numbers are transposed on the footnote on Slide 47—and then looks "one last time" when she returns at 5:45 a.m. The carpenter who, finished, adds one final touch that alters the character of the cabinet he's spent two weeks building, and then hauls the piece back to his shop for a significant (to him) revision. Etc.

Sometimes we call the last two-percenter a "pain in the ass." True, but no one is of greater importance to the success of what we do. Funny thing, I felt less tired and achy after my "last two percent" drill than when I started it.

Tom Peters posted this on July 17, 2008, in Excellence.
Bookmark and Share