Typically I know right away if I consider the character trait of the month to be a strength that could be improved, or an opportunity to improve a weakness.
I like to think I’m diligent, but like most traits there are so many different aspects to diligence. I can see my strengths, but can also see my challenges.
On projects and tasks that I find energizing, I love the challenge of dotting the i’s & crossing the t’s. I enjoy thinking through the minute details trying to ensure that nothing is overlooked, and in those moments I consider myself to be diligent.
On the other hand when something is routine I can overlook the simplest of details. A simple example is sending out an email with an incorrect date, or the date and the day of the week not matching, because I didn’t take the time to double check the calendar before I hit send. In these instances, it’s as if I have never even heard of the word diligence or even understand its meaning.
The Strata Leadership magazine states that “Diligence is all about focus. To be diligent at a task, project, or in life, requires starting with a clear picture in mind of where you need to go, taking steps to get there, and finishing strong without letting distractions lead you off-course.”
I’m not one who makes New Year’s Resolutions each year and I’ve seen statistics that indicate most New Year’s Resolutions don’t make it past January. However, this year instead of making a New Year’s resolution, I made 5 commitments to myself for the upcoming year.
One of those commitments is to have lunch at least once a month with a friend outside of work that I don’t regularly have lunch with. Sounds pretty simple, but it’s amazing how easy it is for time to slip by.
Based on 5 work days a week there are around 260 work days in a year minus vacations, holidays, other regular reoccurring lunches. At the very least that leaves a minimum of 160 days I could be planning lunch with someone I haven’t seen in a while.
So why is it there are people that I’m continually thinking I would love to have lunch with, but never do? Why and how does so much time go by without seeing people I care about? It occurred to me there was a lack of diligence on my part.
The more connections we have through Social media the more important personal relationships become, and more often diligence is needed to build and maintain those relationships.
As I have reflected on diligence, I’ve come to view diligence not only as a focus, but as being purposeful. Being purposeful in paying attention to the details, being purposeful in completing what is started, being purposeful in how time is spent, and being purposeful about priorities.
Christmas with my husband’s family was at our house this year. As my in-laws were arriving and we were getting food unpacked, my five year old granddaughter came into the kitchen and wanted to sing Feliz Navidad to me. I asked her to give me a couple of minutes. After which, I forgot. Later I realized I hadn’t seen her in a little while and found her playing quietly in the bedroom (which quiet isn’t her norm). I asked her what was wrong, to which she stated nothing. And then it hit me, and I said, “I forgot to let you sing your song to me didn’t I”? She kind of shrugged and didn’t make a response. Her dad came in and I left him to see if he could figure out what was wrong. A few minutes later they came into the kitchen, and she was ready to sing her song. I stopped what I was doing, I got down on my knees and rested my hands on the sides of her little face and looked her in the eyes as she sang Feliz Navidad to me.
Even though she sang me her song, there was not the same excitement and enthusiasm in her face and her demeanor, as when she initially wanted to sing it to me.
Sometimes when there is a lack of diligence a second email can be sent correcting the error, or a number can be fixed, and other times there is no rewind or redo. All we can do is say we’re sorry, and vow to do better next time.
So whether you are setting a New Year’s Resolution, making a commitment to yourself, or you just want to do better and be better this year than last year, do it with diligence. Whether it is a task, or a relationship, getting it right the first time will always make us better in the end.