Details Matter

“In the successful organization, no detail is too small to escape close attention.”  Coach Lou Holtz

The BET, my next book, is in the final phase before heading to the printers.  According to the experts, and there are plenty of them if you google certain words, the actual book cover really matters in getting your book sold.  The book cover is the first part that a potential buyer sees.

Details matter. If you incorrectly spell one word in the first chapter, a reader might give up on you before they have started the book.  Using the wrong tense or failing to use proper grammar may quickly cause you to lose the reader. Do individuals really look at things like this?

I did my own survey, just within my daughter Kelly’s family, at a lunch gathering. After taking over 50 photos to consider for the book cover, then narrowing my list to the best five of the group, I asked members of Kelly’s family to review my preferred five possibilities and make comments on which they considered to be the best of the best.

What I heard was truly amazing. You would have thought that a group of professional photographers had assembled to provide their opinions on five photos that were very similar. The composition for the front of The BET includes a baseball, bat and glove.  These objects, chosen because they have special meaning to the book, are arranged in a field of grass. Requesting each person to use a critical eye in the selection of their favorite picture, I then wanted to know the reasons for that choice.

The conversation was astonishing! They talked about color, and angles, and position. Stiches in the ball were evaluated for horizontal or vertical direction. The amount of grass in the background was accessed. How close or far away from the objects.  A blade of grass that was brown and distracting.  The angle of the bat as it lay next to the glove.  A tiny white line that was visible at the end of the bat, et cetera.

These were the five best from an excess of 50 possibilities. The top 10 percent. And yet, Kelly’s family found plenty of elements that were less than the best. Despite the similarity of the pictures, they noticed a lot of differences. Differences they felt mattered. They noticed details. Are you noticing the important details in your own life?

Small things matter. The title of my first book is, There are No Small Moments.  Moments that are fractional in seconds may end up being essential, even in saving a life.  And yet, unless we are put to the test – asked and prompted – as in Kelly’s family helping select my book cover, we could possibly miss out on the details. We do not smell the flowers. We may pass through life unaware of the miracles that surround us. How are you doing with details?

Even early in his career, Michael Jordan, the great basketball player, was destined to break all kinds of records. He was going to be one of the best ever. But winning championships was a different goal.  Despite his own abilities, he had to learn how to help his team become better. And that was only possible by being aware.  As Coach Phil Jackson acknowledged in his book, Sacred Hoops, awareness is more important than ability. And, this is a coach who won numerous championships.


Kelly’s husband and children radiated astute awareness when asked to analyze an important photograph.  If a single photo can be analyzed for color, shape, angle and position, and hours devoted to ensuring the best photo that will compel readers to pick up a book, what might we be missing in other aspects of daily living? What significant element is being scrutinized for success?  Are you aware?

We go to our family physician where temperature, blood pressure and weight are measured. Then we complete a medical history form, requiring us to list every illness, surgical procedure or disease we have ever had. Lot of details that form a picture necessary to enable  the doctor to recommend proper medicine, vitamins, diet or exercise. When you apply for a job, you create a resume to highlight your employment history. And the employer asks questions that relate to the elements that are important for a specific position. When a company develops a proposal for a contract they want to win, they put everything into it. Even, the kitchen sink. The company wants the potential customer to be totally awareof their abilities.  By our own admission, others are checking our details in order to make important decisions. Are we doing that for ourselves?

If you are looking to take your life, or your team, to the next level, ability, which will get you only so far, is not the answer.  If you are looking for greatness, more than just being good, then you need what Michael Jordan realized was equally important.

Awareness is the championship skill for taking your life or team to the next level.

Are you looking at your life through the powerful lens of analysis?

What element is out of place?

What is not in the right position?

What is moving in the wrong direction?

What is in your picture that does not belong?

What is distracting you from being the best? 

What tone needs to be brighter?

The answers to these questions are only possible if we use the same principle used by Michael Jordan to win championships.


The picture that is your life, what does it look like now?

What needs changed?

What needs removed?

Today, I will be aware.

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