From Ze Eduardos Photostream

From Ze Eduardo's Photostream

I’m generally not a highly detail-oriented person.  I am usually quite good at, and content with, understanding the gist of things.  My eyes glaze over as people dive into the minutae of an issue.  

I don’t know if this is inherently good or bad – it’s probably neither – but I do know that  my appreciation for details seems to grow greater all the time.  More specifically, I’m learning that as you approach the upper end of the performance/competitiveness continuum, winning becomes a game of inches.  

A couple examples of what I mean…

1. In the world of cycling, my newfound love, winning is about most efficiently transforming human force into speed and movement on the bike. Every turn of the pedal is an opportunity to either leverage or waste the force that your legs are generating.  If you pedal 80-90 times/minute in a race that lasts several hours, every microscopic bit of leverage counts.  So don’t roll your eyes (like I did) when you hear the bike salesman talk about “system integration” and “aggressive geometries.”

2. I had the privilege of seeing an amazing Minnesota Orchestra concert on Friday night, where I learned that the average string player owns an instrument worth somewhere between $100,000-$200,000.  I’d be the last person to believe that the delta in sound quality between a $10,000 and $100,000 violin somehow mirrors the delta in price, but it seems that here again, where competition is fierce and people are enormously talented, we’re talking about little differences making all the difference.

If you have other good examples I’d love to hear them.  Ultimately, it makes me feel better about the idea of one day becoming an expert in a particular field versus the generalist that I’m currently on a path to become.