Yesterday, my sister-in-law gave clear instructions to the grounds crew tasked with cleaning up her garden while she was at work. The main thing they were supposed to do was rake the lawn – they have an extensive lawn and this was the first chance since the end of winter to clear out all the leaves and dead grass. Well not only did they do that, but they proceeded to level much of the garden as well, including perennials that were just showing their heads.
No double check. No making certain that the grounds crew could confirm the instructions given. It’s like the advice to everyone on how to cut a piece of wood; measure twice, cut once. I hate to admit the number of times I’ve failed that one. My reaction usually being something like – that’s impossible. I know I measured it correctly. Yet there I am, off by a couple of centimeters. And it’s infuriating because I know I should have checked. And I want to blame anyone but myself.
Where it shows up in writing is as follows: in college you fail to understand what your professor wants in response to an essay question. For a business client, you fail to have certainty on what that request for a proposal is designed to achieve.
Why don’t we check?
Well, we think we know. We don’t want to ask our professor again, or that busy client. We’d probably embarrass ourselves and who’d want to risk that? We tell ourselves that we ought to know the answer. And then we make all kinds of assumptions. Oh sure, it’s probably been the correct decision most of the time. But what if it isn’t? What if your assumption is wrong at a critical time? You get a failing grade, you lose the contract.
My point? It’s so easy to double check. Wouldn’t you rather be embarrassed now than fall flat on your face when it really counts? I’ve learned that one the hard way. And if it means getting it right the second time, I’m quite willing to look foolish.