Performance coach, Guerrilla Consultant, interim executive. Technophile re: IoT, Smart Cities, Life Hacking & more. AmieDevero.com for free consult.
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<p>The Bottoms of Plates
October 9, 2016
I remember visiting some friends when I was in college. They were three women sharing an
apartment, and two of them were gossiping about a third roommate’s meager housekeeping.
As they complained, one said to the other “…and she never even turns over a plate to wash
My face must have reddened with the shame I instantly felt, as a vision filled my mind: My
own cupboard full of stacked plates whose bottoms I had never washed. The thought had
never occurred to me. That conversation has stuck with me all these thirty odd years.
Ever since then, whenever I am faced with a job, a task, a project or even a choice, and I see
the possibility of taking a shorter, easier route, my mind immediately plays that line in my
head like a mantra. “She never even turns over a plate to wash it.”
We live in a very casual, unpolished world. The advent of mobile technology, casual Fridays
and greater informality everywhere has had a sort of erosive effect on all aspects of life and
work. As a result, discerning when to raise the bar on our own behavior has become both a
greater challenge and a bigger opportunity. Doing the bare minimum has become so
commonplace, that it is exceptional to witness really genuine excellence. Generations before
us have had numerous ways to describe excellence: Going the extra mile; Dotting all the i’s
and crossing all the t’s; Going above and beyond. That drive to ensure that there are no loose
ends or half-finished details has historically been admired. Today, we seem to have
forgotten our earlier veneration of those traits. In our push for efficiency and convenience,
we have become a culture of “good enough”. And you may say “So what? Why worry about
the bottom of plates? After all, no one sees them.” But the completion of tasks beyond “good
enough” and the performance of actions that add dignity and order or that restore ease, or
make other peoples’ lives more pleasant and easy could be seen as acts of instilling int