On being thorough

One of my greatest weaknesses throughout my entire life was my inability to dig really deep into a problem. I would only ever do the bare minimum to get me through a problem. In other words I would satisfice my way through the problems I faced, and I managed to get through a tough-as-nails university program this way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is something deeply wrong with the system, I am merely saying that this is a reflection of human nature. Most of us are lazy and will do the bare minimum of work. Unless we make a conscious effort to, we don’t have any incentive to do otherwise. In economics, this is known as the shirking model – the best people can do is maximize their income while minimizing their effort.

If this sounds familiar to you, I guarantee you’re not alone. Until very recently I was right along with you in that same boat. It wasn’t until I switched jobs that I realized the value of being thorough. The value of digging deep into a problem and emerging on the other side with a solution which was thought through, or at least which raised some new questions which need to be answered.

Let’s be real: thoroughness is hard. But that is exactly the reason why it is valuable. If you can consistently work through problems in a thorough manner and think through different angles of a problem and emerge with either the answers or thoughtful questions I guarantee that you will move ahead of your peers in seemingly no time.

Being thorough is the differentiator between most of the work people do in modern organizations and the work of the people who continuously stand out from the crowd. If you can move from a place of satisficing work, to thorough and thoughtful work, you will stand apart from others in the best way imaginable.

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