What separates a person that is consistently at the top from someone who is unreliable in the winners circle? Details. You can always depend on Logan Jackson’s lambs never having an extra piece of wool under their chest or above their hock, that Sullivan’s heifers will never have a loosely balled tail, or that Hummels goats will ever be pictured with their head set at any less of an angle than 90 degrees.
You may have heard that “details matter” or “it’s the little things that make the difference” and while we hear these phrases over and over again, it doesn’t make it any easier to do the little things or stay disciplined to take care of the details. I am a firm believer that making sure all of the little things are taken care of is not a skill that you are naturally gifted, it’s something that is developed inside you through repetition and habit until it can be identified as somewhat of an instinct.
To describe to you how this meticulousness comes about, I am going to share a story about one of my employers not too long ago. He was a sheep breeder in western Oklahoma and every day I would show up, feed the ewes, sweep the barn and begin whatever manual labor he had planned for me that day. Many days he would have me restack feed that came in on a pallet because it had been shifted during shipping. Other times I would clean ewes’ mud caked ear tags off after a rain. After the day was done I would always end it with evening chores, and sweeping the barn, before I turned it in for the night.
One specific task that I had one day was cleaning the inside of the farm truck. It had been several weeks since it had been cleaned out and since my boss knew that he was going to be pulling a trailer to Nebraska the next day, he wanted it to be spick and span, which of course it was not. I was about half way through a major detailed clean when my boss came pulling up to the shop in MY CAR! He hopped out and said “I want you to do your car next.” I was shocked. He was paying me to clean my own car with his cleaning supplies? Sure enough! I started on my vehicle and I quickly realized that it was more dirty than the farm truck! That day my car was the cleanest it had ever been, and to this day it has not been that dirty again.
Moral of the story: how you do anything is how you do everything. My employer needed everything clean, always. He didn’t allow any exceptions when he was in charge, including myself. I can assure you that each and every lamb that was sold off of that farm, or that his son took to a show, was at its full potential at that stage in its life. Why? Because he never allowed anything less. Taking care of minor details matters, but what matters more is that you are disciplined enough to create habits that don’t allow you to fall short seeing even the smallest details.