How you do Anything is How you do Everything

Two months ago, I was at IESE business school with Verne Harnish and his wife Julie.  We were talking about entrepreneurial success and achievement.  He shared with me a quote that comes from his father-in-law:

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Details Alhambra
Detail from the Alhambra Palace in
Granada, Spain credit Pim Fijneman

Verne’s father-in-law has apartments that he rents out.  What criteria does he use to identify good tenants?  How does he decide to whom he will rent out his apartments?

When somebody comes to view one of his properties, he takes the time to look at that person’s car.  Are the tires in good condition?  Is the paintwork in good shape?  Is the inside of the car in good condition?  Is it clean?  If the person takes good care of their car, he knows they will take good care of his apartment.  He rents his apartments to those who take good care of their cars.

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Coach John Wooden, the most-winning-est coach having led the UCLA basketball team to 10 championships in 12 seasons, has 3 rules for his players:

  1. Show up on time
  2. Show up properly dressed
  3. Show up shaved
His view is that if you can keep these simple things under control, you have the discipline to master the big things.

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

My brother Aidan worked in investment banking for a decade.

When he first started he joined a team led by a gruff senior banker.  This senior banker gave my brother one simple task that he was to complete every morning before the 7:00am team meeting – he was to send out an email to the team with 6 market indicators calculated for the day.  My brother delivered this email before 7:00am every day for 2 years.  One day, the whole team had a late night.  Everybody was out late celebrating.

The next morning, my brother’s email didn’t arrive til a few minutes after 7:00am.  The gruff senior banker immediately said to him “Never let this happen again.  How can I trust you with clients, with million dollar trades, if I can’t trust you with this task.  Never again. Understood?”

I would have felt cruelly treated in this situation – “I deliver 400 times successfully and the one time I deliver 3 minutes late I get beaten up!”  But the message was very clear:

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Sweat the details.
The little things count.

“We can do no great things, only little things with great love”

Mother Teresa.

Have a great weekend.

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