Little Things Matter: One Fundamental Tip for Success

by Don Smith

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A few days ago, my wife hired another lady for her cleaning business which has been taking off with several new recurring clients signing up every week. The lady showed up six minutes late for her interview, and I cautioned her that it was a red flag. She liked her though, and even though a background check turned up some turmoil in her past, there wasn't anything too big so she decided to give her a shot. “Come over at 8 AM and we'll go work on a few houses together.”

At 8:10 AM, Pamela and one of her employees were still waiting on the new hire to show. I said, “If she isn't on time on the first day or her interview, that's only going to get worse, not better.” Her employee gave a knowing nod of approval, and they headed out. “I'll text her but if she shows up, let her know we had to get to our first appointment and that it isn't going to work out.”

If You Want it Bad Enough, You'll Find a Way. If Not, You'll Find An Excuse.

At 9:46, Pamela got a text with some excuse about how she needed the address and then that the text was delayed in sending. This was interesting because she had just been here for the interview, so she should still have the address. Would have probably been better if she'd just fessed up that she had overslept, not that it would have made a difference on the outcome. But sometimes people amaze even me… The phrase, “If you want it bad enough, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse.” comes to mind.

Pamela has only been running the business since January and hasn't done a lot of hiring yet, so this was a lesson learned for her. Little things matter. I've interviewed hundreds of people over the years, and one of my mentors drilled into me that if something isn't right during the interviews, don't make excuses for them because it'll never get better. I've found that to be true. Little things matter. Hire slowly and fire quickly.

If You're On Time, You're Late

Vince Lombardi, the coach who led the Green Bay Packers to win the first two super bowls and won 5 NFL Championships in 7 years, famously said, “If you're early, you're on time…if you're on time, you're late….if you're late, don't even bother showing up.”

Being on time is one of those fundamental little things that you need to get right if you're going to succeed. I usually shoot for being 10-15 minutes early, because that gives me a little bit of wiggle room if I run into a problem. If you're going to a party that will go on all evening, it might be a little odd to show up 15 minutes early, but if you're going to work, get there early.

Woody Allen who wrote, directed, and starred in several Academy Award-winning films, put it this way, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

If you want to succeed, focus on the little things, and start by showing up a little early.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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