A few weeks ago, our parish celebrated a Solemn Requiem Mass for All Souls Day. One of the responsibilities of those of us serving at the Altar was to read the names of the dead to be commemorated that night.
Each of the six lists were long, and since many of the relatives of those who had died were attending, I wanted to make sure to pronounce all of the names correctly. There was one woman’s last name that stumped me with two choices.
Just before the Mass began, I noticed a relative of hers enter the church, and I asked him for the correct pronunciation, which he told me. By the way, had I not asked, I would have pronounced the name incorrectly. He thanked me for asking, and as I was walking away, the gentleman called me back and said, “it makes perfect sense that you would reach out to me. Because that’s who you are.”
I was touched by his comment. First, because it was a lovely thing to hear, and second, because I talk with him so infrequently. How did he know? What had I said or done that brought him to that conclusion so easily?
I thought back to a conversation we had a few months earlier. He had commended me for my presence at the Altar, and of all the wonderful things he said, what stayed with me was his observance of my attention to detail.
Details matter in terms of execution. I’m a private pilot and not paying attention to details can be fatal. Details matter in other ways as well. When you’re in a position of leadership and you know what you’re doing down to the smallest detail, you’re free to be present in each moment and to truly contribute to others. And they are free as well. Every great presenter knows that if they’re doing their job, she or he actually disappears and the content is what shines. You’re simply the vehicle through which wisdom and knowledge flow.
Pay attention to the details of every situation. Learn them until they become part of you. Don’t take it on as some chore that has to be done. But rather as an essential component of being the very best you can be.