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Every Great Legacy Begins With the Willingness to Be Different

Every Great Legacy Begins With the Willingness to Be Different

Growing up I didn’t want to be different. I did everything I could to get people not to notice me. But I was born with a talent that made me stand apart not just from the other kids, but from the girls, too.

For as long as I can remember, I was playing a sport of some kind. From soccer, to tennis, to basketball, to softball. For a brief time, I ran the 800 in junior high. I even coached several of those same sports for my boys or a group of high school girls. Unlike many girls today, I never entered a single dance studio or took a tumbling class.

The most nonathletic thing I ever did was play the accordion (don’t laugh) for two years beginning when I was five years old. Oh, yeah, and the flute in 5th grade. That didn’t last long when I was practicing (what else but) my softball swing and part of the flute flew off and hit my dresser—just what you want to tell your parents about your rented musical instrument. I dabbled in the Girl Scouts for a year, but got tired of wearing green, and I never did have very many patches to put on my sash. In 7th grade, I was a “Rainbow Girl” but grew tired of the “properness” of this secret society.

I was (and to some degree still am) most comfortable doing what I do best.

Otherwise, I spent most of my time with a glove, a pair of cleats, or a ball of some kind. Most recesses were spent playing kickball or tether ball. For years, my stepmom would waste time by putting those pink foam curlers in my hair the night before school pictures and encouraging me to wear dresses to school. What she didn’t know is that I secretly took an extra set of clothes to school to change into—you just can’t play kickball wearing a blue corduroy jumper and black dress shoes.

What I didn’t realize in my attempt to hide among all of the other kids in school was that I actually stood out.

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Because I was good. Because I was different, without even knowing it.

Regardless of how hard I tried to be invisible, I was unable to hide. People still saw me.

But this article isn’t about the clothes I wore in 5th grade or the number of teams I was on while a kid; it’s really about something bigger.

It’s about the legacy we create because we are different. It’s about the rules we think we need to follow to ensure that any potential we have within remains hidden. It’s about the way we are who we were born to be.

If you were to look at all of the great visionaries of the past century, you will find one common quality among them: they all stood out. They all were unique in their own way. They took risks. They failed. They were criticized. They refused to quit. They tried again. They succeeded. They made history.

We all are born with talents unlike anyone else and only our experiences shape those talents into something we either share with the world or we pretend don’t exist. Either way, the real you will eventually come to the surface. It always does.

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Some people set out to change the world at a very early age while others end up doing so almost by accident.

Creating a legacy doesn’t begin with writing history in such a way that we notice it immediately. It isn’t found in some great new invention or a way to feed the hungry. Most often, it begins with something much smaller.

It begins with a single thought. A single idea. A single vision. A single word.

All of those things comes together to start the conversation, to initiate change.

Our willingness to not only notice the world, but react to it in such a way that burying our talents no longer is an option is how we change everything. Our willingness to allow ourselves to be seen and heard is the position we take—not because it is required by others, but because it was bestowed upon us to share.

For far too long, we have permitted ourselves to be hermits and recluses in order to excuse our lack of action and our believed shortcomings. We have done this world and everyone in it a huge injustice and disservice and the only way to rectify it is to be who we were born to be.

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Some were born to swing and never share a single note attached to a melody. Some were born to dance and never grace us while they float on stage. Some were born to play and never make a single team. Some were born to create and never put those ideas to paper or disclose them to anyone else. Some were born to lead, yet sit quietly in the shadows. Some were born to design, to write, to build, but never do.

Instead, they remain where no one can see them, ignoring our need to have their talents shared with us.

Greatness is found in the willingness to be different every time. No one remembers the legacy that looks like every other one. Your legacy cannot be written if it is locked away behind everything you were born to be.

We all have something unique about us and until we find it and share it, we cheat the world.

Need help finding your greatness?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I LOVE to do?
  2. Where am I most comfortable?
  3. How am I different?
  4. How can I share my gifts with others?

Once you realize and accept you have a gift, no matter how small, you will find moments when it naturally steps out of the shadows as it shows people who you really are. It’s easy to pretend it doesn’t matter and pretend it won’t impact anyone.

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Our legacies are created not after we are gone, but in the life we lived along the way. It is told in the stories, pictures and memories that leave imprints on the lives it touched and become something that is impossible to erase.

Be different. Because you are. The sooner we embrace our gifts instead of fighting against them the better we are for the world and the people in it.

True greatness lies there—and it always will.

Featured photo credit: Lindy Baker via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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