The Devil is in the Details

The Devil is in the Details

Today we all had to read our outlines for the term paper. I was pretty excited about mine. I felt like I took some of the ideas from our readings and found a way to apply them to my current work in a new way. Once I read it out to the class, the professor responded (as she did to many others) “Wow, that’s really big. How about you take on just the first part?”

She was right, the proposal was too big for a 10 page term paper, and I am grateful that she helped me narrow down my focus to something I can get done more easily. What is emerging in my mind is how i interpreted the assignment – I had thought that I needed to not only do research on the course topic but ALSO create an original project applying the research.

I went back and checked. NOWHERE in the syllabus did it say we needed to do this extra work. Why did I feel the need to go way beyond what was required? So often I get stuck in a perfectionism loop where I feel like I need to do things to a super level of competency or detail.

“The devil is in the details” usually means that we need to pay attention to details so the work is good quality. I’m starting to think that perhaps the devil is in the need to go to the detail level even when it is not healthy, efficient, or even good process. The need to go above and beyond has served me well in many ways, but sometimes at great cost.

“Discernment” is the motto I am going to try. Discern when details need attention and when a broad overview is more suitable.

Looking for deer ticks after a day in the woods? Detail attitude for the win!

Enjoying a student production of a famous musical? Take that perfectionism down a few notches.

What if I told you you're overthinking this

Find a Stillness

SO MUCH is happening. Some is good, some is really startlingly horrible. This “both true at once” and everything in between is …well, I suppose it’s what being human is about.

Today, after a particularly energizing meeting, when I agreed to be part of a new RBP*, I stopped to take a quick internal inventory:

  • Heart racing
  • Brain buzzing
  • Skin lightly tingling

I was either super excited about the Work, or having a panic attack. Sometimes they feel similar, you know?

I mentioned to my colleague that it must be hard to fall asleep at night when so much growth and vibrancy is happening now in our organization. “It’s like you can feel the seeds about to sprout!” I said. She smiled, nodded, and I thought she was going to agree with me, but then she replied, “Yes, but I also know that seeds don’t grow unless they have some dark and quiet, too.”

yup.

A lot of time we use the metaphor “cultivating ideas” to mean helping ideas come to fruition, but any farmer will tell you that a cultivator is the tool you use to stir up the soil near your precious plants to keep the weed seeds from growing. Frequent cultivating is what you do to prevent seeds from growing by drying out the soil and keep roots from taking hold.

Friends, colleagues, dear ones, we are already in constant motion. Whether because the deadline looms or because our neurons are firing with glee, I urge us put down the “Garden Weasel“. When the work day is done, it’s time to let the idea seeds rest.

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.

Valued Added Extras:

That reminds me of an art installation happening now in London called Empty Lot. Artist Abraham Cruzvillegas, filled wooden planters with soil from all over different parts of the city. Nothing has been planted in them but anything could grow, depending on what seeds are already in the soil.

Also here’s a lovely hymn, “Find A Stillness” by the UU Congregation of Atlanta arranged by Donald Milton III

*Really Big Project