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Success Rule #12 – No Task is too Small

You never know when you’re work is going to be noticed, or who is going to notice it. Take pride in your work — all of it. How can you be expected to be responsible for the big project if you can’t even handle the simple ones?

As a new Captain in the USAF, and recently assigned to a new squadron, I was asked to organize the unit’s Christmas party. “CHRISTMAS PARTY! C’mon! That’s for a brand new Second Lieutenant. Not me!” Moral had been low and the previous year’s party had been just 35 attendees. After sharing this concern of mine with a mentor, he asked me the same thing I asked you. After swallowing this horse pill and putting my attitude in check, I reproached the task with renewed vigor. I recruited a committee, brainstormed ideas, and by the time we had the party there were 263 revelers. I believe my success was noticed and when a sought after position on the General’s staff came open I was selected by my Squadron Commander to apply and was subsequently given the position.

More recently, I was contracted to work with a popular chain of buffet restaurants. One particular store was having success and I so I made an unannounced visited to see what they were doing. I introduced myself to the GM and she gave me the “keys to the store”. As I walked into the kitchen I almost literally bumped into a young girl wearing an immaculate food service uniform, carrying a very large bowl of lettuce, the kind you find at a salad bar, and she was wearing a stereo typical white floppy chef’s hat. I asked what she does. “I’m the master salad chef. It’s my job to be sure when guest come into my restaurant” – . “MY Restaurant” she said. It was HER restaurant, the MASTER salad chef. OK I digress. She went on to explain in detail how important it was the dressing bowls were always full, no drips down the side. The lettuce bowl always had fresh chopped lettuce, nothing with brown edges; the protective glass always clean . . . Seventy one by thirty two by fifty two inches of perfection. As I stood there and listened to her go on in such detail I thought to myself, “It’s just a bowl of lettuce”. As it turns out it was much than, “just a bowl of lettuce”, it was HER bowl of lettuce and that meant a lot.

Remember, the next time you feel like slacking because you are working on a menial task, it’s more than just a bowl of lettuce – take pride in all you do.


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Jeff Ribeira

In Russian there are two words for pride- one for the good kind, and one for the bad. Ultimately that’s what this comes down to. One should take ownership and pride (the good kind) in what they do no matter what the task or the person’s credentials. It’s a sense of entitlement and pride (the bad kind) that leads a person to constantly complain, perform poorly, and essentially keep themselves from rising beyond these things professionally and personally.

Anthony Tormey

Jeff, interesting perspective. Understanding views from around the world can give us new and valuable perspectives.