The Magic and Mystical Power of Delivering “Quality.”
We human beings have an instinctive, God-given ability to recognize quality in all things. Yes, in all things. When we see something as simple as a shirt or a sweater, most of us can determine, with just a glance or a simple touch, whether it is of good quality or not. When we drive by a house, let alone walk through it, our minds sample a myriad of variables and almost instantly calculate whether it has been maintained, whether it is aesthetically pleasing, and even whether the building materials are superior to other alternatives. When we have one of our kids help was a car or paint a room or mow the lawn, we recognize work that took effort, and we know when the effort was half-hearted.
Robert Pirsig, author of the modern classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, wrote:
If you want to build a factory, or fix a motorcycle, or set a nation right without getting stuck, then classical, structural . . . knowledge, although necessary, isn’t enough. You have to have a sense for what’s good. That is what carries you forward. This sense isn’t just something you’re born with, although you are born with it. It’s also something you can develop. It’s not just “intuition,” not just unexplainable “skill” or “talent” . . .
The key word is “better”—Quality.
You should focus on delivering quality, too. It will never let you down. Even if you think people don’t notice the effort, they do, even if unconsciously, someplace deep inside themselves.
J.D. Salinger, in his wonderful novel Franny and Zooey, describes a telephone conversation between a sister and brother. Franny is feeling dispirited. She has begun to think of people as posers and fakers who can’t distinguish what is truly superior—especially a theatre teacher of hers named Professor Tupper. But Zooey knows better. He knows that a focus on quality is never wasted, and he tells his sister a story to help her understand.
Zooey reminds Franny that their eldest brother Seymour used to tell Zooey to shine his shoes before going on a quiz show called It’s a Wise Child, where the siblings all appeared regularly. Zooey had argued with Seymour. After all the studio audience and viewers at home couldn’t see his shoes anyhow. How could they matter? But Seymour knew better; he knew that people have a sixth sense for quality—even a quality effort:
He said to shine them anyway. He said to shine them for the Fat Lady. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but he had a very Seymour look on his face, and so I did it. He never did tell me who the Fat Lad was, but I shined my shoes for the Fat Lady every time I ever went on the air again—all the years you and I were on the program together, if you remember. I don’t think I missed more than a couple of times . . . Anyway, it seemed goddam clear why Seymour wanted me to shine my shoes when I went on the air. It made sense.
Franny was standing. She had taken her hand away from her face to hold the phone with two hands. “He told me, too,” she said into the phone. “He told me to be funny for the Fat Lady, once . . .”
“Yes. Yes. Yes. All right,” [Zooey said.] “Let me tell you something now, buddy . . . Are you listening?”
Franny looking extremely tense, nodded.
“ . . . There isn’t anyone out there who isn’t Seymour’s Fat Lady. That includes your Professor Tupper, buddy. And all his goddam cousins by the dozens. There isn’t anyone that isn’t Seymour’s Fat Lady. Don’t you know that? Don’t you know that goddam secret yet?”
The secret doesn’t just apply to the creation of products or the construction of buildings. It applies to the inherent quality of everything. High quality is always a result of sincere effort applied to craft ideas, build relationships, teach children, or define freedom. And people know it when they hear it, see it or feel it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a politician, a pipefitter, or a poet. No matter who is in your life—from a voter, to a customer, to a reader, to a son or daughter, husband or wife—you always honor that person and honor yourSELF when you sincerely strive for quality in all you do.
Dr. Keith Ablow
This blog was adapted from TRUMP YOUR LIFE: 25 Life Lessons from the Ups and Downs of the 45thPresident of the United States. Visit www.trumpyourlifenow.com