By Nora Leonard, Executive Assistant
The idiom (a figurative meaning separated from the literal meaning) “the devil is in the detail” derives from the earlier phrase, “God is in the detail;” expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important1.
Definition: When people say that the devil is in the detail, they mean that small things in plans and schemes that are often overlooked can cause serious problems later on. Just as I pointed out where the idiom came from (see Note 1), it’s equally important to remember details in your everyday work.
Remember the basics: who, what, when, where and why. If you leave one of these elements out of a calendar invite, an email, or a conversation, guaranteed you’ll have someone scratching their head! Save everyone the time and energy of trying to figure it out – do it once and do it right…with details.
As an Executive Assistant at Columbia Tech, part of my responsibility is scheduling calendars, proof reading blogs, press releases, proposals, etc. I read each one slowly and carefully, looking at the most minute details. Without scrutiny, something very important could be overlooked, resulting in a problem down the road. Can you imagine giving someone the wrong day or time on a calendar invite resulting in a missed call, or missed meeting or business opportunity with a potential customer?
I want to share a personal story from a few years ago pertaining to details. A team of associates from Columbia Tech were going to meet our field service group for a holiday lunch in Franklin. I told one group to meet at one restaurant, and told the other group to meet at another restaurant! Fortunately for me, they were both in the same town…and the guys have a sense of humor! I did not pay attention to the details! Lesson learned. I now pay attention to details!
Make it part of your job, and day to day living, to remember to incorporate details in everything you do! Don’t leave anyone guessing…or worse yet, assuming!
- Titelman, Gregory, Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, Random House Reference, March 5, 1996