God is in the Details

But I am not God so details can be very trying. I am not good with details. Anyone who really knows me knows this is true.

My favorite story about not being detail oriented was at work where a young project manager trying to make a name decided to pin me as the detail-oriented one. I didn’t take it personal since I was pretty sure she was trying to paint herself as the young up-and-coming strategic person.

Of course it also meant she wasn’t paying attention to the people around her and I think she latched onto me because she confused detail oriented with paying attention.

Not that details aren’t important. When I do find them useful I usually find them useful in the moment. What details do I need to know right NOW! Details that MAY be of importance in the future just clog up my cognition.

Maybe it’s how we view details that gets me in trouble when I say I have no use for them. Perhaps it’s more of a concern with accuracy, or very little concern with accuracy to be less delicate. I always manage to confuse accuracy and precision but in this case I believe I am fairly accurate in saying that is this is about accuracy.

You see I have an inherent weakness in the desire to approximate everything (This was very evident in my arithmetic career).

I remember an example with my good friend Richard where we were counting something up and I said “There’s about four left.” He said, “There’s no about. There’s four left.” And yes indeed there were four left, which was very clear and even strongly in the range of my ability to count. So even in the presence of very simple and clear evidence, I felt the need to approximate.

Or perhaps it wasn’t a need to approximate but a fear to commit to a known fact or number or other piece of datum. Hmm, that could open up a whole new discussion about commitment phobias. And is there really a difference between an irrational fear to commit and an irrational need to commit.

But nonetheless I stand by my behavior. I mean, after all, how often do we really know exactly. And even more so how often do we really need to know exactly. As my coworker Lee is fond of saying “We have a desire for accuracy and precision beyond our ability to measure and beyond our ability to make useful.”

About joegergen

To evoke a smile. That's all. Author of "Methane Wars: A Fable" and "Lear's Fool" as well as various poems and some these painting things as well.
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