Pearls of Perspicacity more resembles a box of chocolates than it does a traditional business or career book. Each chapter delivers its unique tidbit of knowledge and insight in a manner best suited to the ideas presented. The chapters differ in length, tone, and depth, but all have one characteristic in common: They all present nuggets of insight to help you immediately achieve better performance and greater fulfillment in your life. Why "perspicacity" you ask? Why couldn't you just say "pearls of wisdom"? Or even something more straightforward like "good ideas"? The answer is simple. None of those words sufficiently describe the book's broad range of content and the true nature of the ideas presented. Take wisdom for example. Wisdom implies a soundness based on knowledge, experience, or understanding that leads to good judgment. Fair enough; the ideas in the book would pass this test. But the nature of these pearls extends beyond mere soundness. Perspicacity implies a special keenness or acuity applied to insight. It implies a cleverness, perceptiveness, or acuity that takes the basic notion of wisdom one step deeper. This deeper level internalization of certain truths will give you a noticeable advantage in your career.
Chapter 7: Should You Sweat the Small Stuff? One of the best political campaign consultants I’ve ever known shared with me a profound insight about political campaign management. She said you always spot the winning and losing campaigns by taking a walk through their campaign headquarters. The winning campaigns are always neat and organized (compared to the hectic nature of campaigns), the trash is emptied, and there isn’t a lot of garbage around. You don’t see a lot of half-empty coffee cups and uneaten doughnut pieces that have been lying around for days. Losing campaigns are the opposite. They’re staffed by people with holier-than-though attitudes—people who think they’re too important to clean up the mess or do any of the menial tasks. Once you let the “that’s not my job” disease creep into any organization, you’re headed down a path toward disaster. When Delta Airlines was flying high, one of the favorite stories people loved to tell was the story of the Chairman of the Board showing up at the busiest Delta terminal during Thanksgiving week to help with the baggage handling. By demonstrating that no job was beneath him, he set the tone for everyone in the company that they should do what it takes to keep the standards high, regardless of their job description. The worst thing you can do is think you’re “above” doing some task that needs to be done. If something needs to be done and you’re in a position to do it (without putting someone else down or stepping on their toes), then do it. And don’t look around for a hero’s reception. Don’t even worry about whether it will be recognized. Just make a habit of pitching in whenever possible, doing what ever makes sense, and moving along. Likewise, don’t resist a project or an assignment merely because you think it’s not big enough, not important enough, or not visible enough. Look at every job as an opportunity to excel and contribute. Perform well on the little stuff and greater opportunity will find you. How many times have you heard someone complain by saying, “Gee, you do good work around here and the reward is more work!” Why is this a complaint? Work isn’t something we should always think about avoiding. Work is something we should see as an opportunity for true satisfaction and fulfillment. But equally as important, more work is an opportunity to contribute more, achieve more, and ultimately earn more rewards. If you don’t sweat the small stuff, the chances for you and your organization to pursue larger opportunities will be diminished. After I left the Navy, my very first job had me working for a lousy boss. I was the new kid on the block, and he gave me all the least fulfilling assignments that no one else (including him) wanted. I took on each assignment and did my very best plus a little extra. Whenever possible I gave him and his department credit for the results that were produced. Within four to six months he started giving me the best assignments (which typically had the highest visibility to upper management) because he quickly saw it was in his best interest to do so. He could count on me doing an extraordinarily good job, and he didn’t see me as someone who was competing with him for the limelight. The result was that after only fifteen months on the job, he was promoted to a job that was more in line with his competency and didn’t involve managing people and I was offered his job. This became one of many instances throughout my career where taking on the menial assignments and doing a good job on the small stuff paid great dividends for me.
Dick Lyles serves as CEO of Origin Entertainment (Hollywood movie making company) and Leadership Legacies (intellectual property development company) and was CEO of Relevant Radio (thirty-five station radio network) and The Ken Blanchard Companies® (training company). He holds seats on several boards of directors. He is a best-selling author whose previous works have been published in more than forty languages around the world. Dick also hosts THE CATHOLIC BUSINESS HOUR, broadcast weekly via the EWTN global radio network. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy and holds a Master’s Degree in Human Behavior and a Doctorate in Business Administration.