Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sweat The Details

Details matter. The difference between a mediocre experience and an outstanding one can often be found in the details. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant with excellent food but a mediocre waiting staff? The service makes the food less delicious. Have you ever gone to a place of business where the receptionist was in a bad mood and didn't mind sharing their mood with customers? No matter how good the service is after that, the experience as a whole is likely going to be a negative one. Details matter. If you are watching a great movie in the theater, but the man next to you has gas... again, details.

In Japan, they GET details. They get it. They pay great attention to it. They understand it. The tea ceremony is nothing but details. Martial arts kata - details. If you eat at a McDonald's in Japan, your food actually looks like the pictures on the menu. Buy something that doesn't work and send it back? You'll probably get a written apology with your refund and you might even get a small gift for your trouble! It's the details that can tip the balance from average to bad and from good to great.

For the muscle-heads in the audience, what does this mean?

Details in exercise technique and tension can mean the difference between an effective exercise and an injury-causing one.

Details in stretching can mean, for example, the difference between lengthening the hamstrings and putting undue stress on the lumbars.

Details in the design of a kettlebell can mean the difference between a good workout and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Details in programming can mean the difference between PRs and overtraining.

Sweat the small stuff.

"Do the big stuff, but master the small. People look at the small as telling evidence of your ability to do the big - and anything else." - Harry Beckwith


Rocks said...

so this is probably basic but what details seperate a good kettlebell from a bad one.

Boris said...

Not at all basic if you haven't spent much time with KBs. I haven't used a lot of bad kettlebells, but here are some things that come to mind immediately:

*a handle that is too thick and not round and not smooth - if you are planning on doing much besides basic swings and maybe presses, you will find this to be a big problem.

*a handle that doesn't have enough clearance room between it and the body of the bell - do any kind of presses or snatches with a bell like this and you'll have no choice but to hyperextend your wrist (unless the weight is very light). too much clearance could also be a problem, but I haven't personally used a bell like that.

*handle welded onto the bell - could be a disaster waiting to happen

*too much weight in the handle

*knurling on the handle - will shred your hands w. snatches and cleans.

Geoff Neupert said...


GREAT post! I agree wholeheartedly. I follow the old axiom, "The Devil is in the details."

Congrats on your recent GS PRs.


Peter Dell'Orto said...

Makes me sad I'm leaving Japan soon.

Just today I had to pay a bill at the bank. The teller told me there was an 840 yen fee to pay at the window, but 525 yen at the ATM. I said "I'll pay the 840, I don't know how to do the transfer on the ATM." So she came out from behind the counter, got on line for the ATM with me, and helped me pay it there so I'd save about $3.

THAT is unforgettable service, and THAT is mastering the details.

On the other hand, I emailed a baggage limit question to the US-based airline I'm flying back on, and their response was to cut-and-paste the web page FAQ on luggage in their reply...nevermind my question was asking for a clarification of a specific sentence in that FAQ.

I prefer the Japanese model.

It's something I try to apply to my lifting and training, too. That "don't sweat the small stuff/it's all small stuff" misses the picture. Big stuff is just a pile of small stuff. You have to pay attention to your form and your technique. You have to concentrate on each rep. You have to make the effort to make each and every exercise you do part of the whole process of improving or maintaining your fitness. If you start to let the small stuff go the big stuff always follows...right down the drain.

Boris said...

Thanks! and thank you for stopping in!

I've had some really bad customer service in Japan too, but those experiences are few and far between. It tough to leave Japan, isn't it?