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Quality Leads To Opposition

Mar 7, 2008
The following is based on over twenty years of study and experience. Some small amount of logic and good sense is thrown in to glue it together. The purpose of the following is to encourage the reader toward ever higher quality.

The natural tendency of people is to do things well, and correctly. No one-year-old ever tried to do something less well than he could. It follows, then, that any tendency to give less than one's best effort is a learned behavior. It further follows that what has been learned can be unlearned.

From a very early age, a child learns that not all of his efforts are appreciated and admired, at least not as much as he thinks they should be. He draws a picture he is proud of, and it gets a ho-hum response. He makes a mess while trying to help, and gets yelled at. At school, it only gets worse, with mediocre grades despite good effort, and with derision as a "teacher's pet" for showing interest or doing well.

What results is the unnatural tendency to hold back, to not try so hard. Call it the "Why Bother?" syndrome. What also results is unknowingly teaching this behavior to others, and reinforcing it generally. Everyone does this sometimes, if only by not admiring others' efforts.

Some people recognize that their life needs to improve. Some people rebel, because they know they are not living up to their potential, and want more from life. They start trying to improve quality, both in their own life and all around them. They start trying to make things better. And they discover that the world does not make that easy.

Opposition can take many forms, from outright obstacles to the most subtle kind of all: lack of appreciation. When a person does something well, and it doesn't get noticed, the "Why Bother?" syndrome kicks in, full force.

Change is possible. Improvement is possible. Self-improvement is possible. They are not only possible, they are relatively easy. So long as the intention continues. They may not happen as fast as you would like -- what does? -- but continued motion in the direction of improvement always yields progress.

The next time you put forth that extra little effort to do a job better, and someone says, "Why Bother," you can smile sweetly and say, "Oh, it's no bother." You don't need admiration or appreciation to do things better. It's nice when it comes, and it will come, but you don't need it.

Besides, you should know that someone does admire your efforts to improve, and does appreciate the things you do well. In fact, every reader of this article does, as you admire theirs. They are not alone, nor are you, in these efforts. You may be fought, or scorned, or ignored, as you push through the lowlands of mediocrity to the higher levels of quality. But you are not alone, and you are needed.
About the Author
Don Dewsnap has been teaching the principles of quality to his children, his employees, and his co-workers for over twenty years. Now they are in a book, Anyone Can Improve His or Her Own Life: The Principles of Quality, found at www.principles-of-quality.com.
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