It’s simple:  smart people double check their work!  Have you ever finished writing something, thinking it was fine, only to double check it and be surprised at how many mistakes you actually made?  Double checking is a habit of mind.  It’s a technique that can be learned, and if you’re going to be successful with something as fragile as producing live events you’d better start doing it.

What’s one element that will certainly embarrass you if you don’t double check it?  Spelling.  Think about all the places where misspelling will get you in trouble: invitations, name tags, table cards, programs and the attendance list.  People get offended when their name or company name is spelled wrong.  They also have no tolerance for being placed at a table that doesn’t have enough seats.  Once I was at an event and was given a table card. When I went to the table, the name on the table was spelled differently than the place card.  I wondered if it was a typo or if there was another table.  I asked the host and she told me it was a typo.  When I went to sit down, someone told me he was sitting there.  I quickly realized there weren’t enough seats at the table, and I was upset.  Make sure your guests walk away from the event with a smile instead of a frown.

I was home in Las Vegas for five days, taking a break from these whirlwind of shows we’d been performing on at sea.  Elena and I were at Barnes and Noble in Henderson.  I love that bookstore because it’s HUGE and they have a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf right there in the store.  Browsing the philosophy section, coffee in hand, I stumbled upon a very informative book called Habits Of Mind by Arthur Costa.  I bought it and deployed it.  What surprised me was how applicable it was to my business and events, not just the education field it was written for.  All of us want to be considered smart, right?  But deep inside we question if we’re all that bright. Well, now we don’t have to hope any longer because Costa highlights that many of the things we consider “smart” are simply habits that can be learned.  One of the most important of these is a focus on accuracy and precision; where the “sloppy guesswork” nature of the entertainment industry could use some help.

Costa introduces “three before me” which was the idea that before turning something in, or calling it done, three people had also looked at it.  In my world it’s important that many other pairs of eyes are on the event.  Team review, document reviews and many other tactics that I’ve covered in other event blogs are crucial.

But it always comes down to the simple fact that we will be a team of high performers if we double check our work. We don’t let sloppy mistakes persist because it not only leads to failure, but maybe even outright mistrust.  After all, if you can’t trust what your team members are doing, you can’t rely on them.  And if you can’t rely on them, you’re either doing all their work again (to verify it), or unwilling to work in a team.  Neither of those leads to a high performing team, nor a high performing event.  How could it?  So we must develop the pattern, the routine and the habit of double checking our work.

An area where I’d personally like to see more double checking is news.  It’s surprising to me how many young folks click their smart phones to Google News and think what they read is accurate; that it doesn’t need double checking.  I’m often surprised at how many journalists relive the good old days when the media claimed a monopoly on truth. Decades ago Walter Cronkite could sign off his CBS News broadcasts by declaring from on high, “And that’s the way it is.”  Journalists should no longer claim that they know the way it is.  Reporting as double checking might have started as a check on outright falsehoods, but it has morphed into a technique for supposedly nonpartisan journalists to present opinion as facts.  The credibility of reporting has enough problems without claiming objectivity while practicing subjectivity.  Not when anyone with an internet connection can discover the difference.

Readers should go over the heads of the media and double check statements for themselves.  All this digital technology shouldn’t make us lazy.  It should mean less reliance on the media to pass judgment on what politicians say.  We the voters can go to the source and make up our own minds.  Why don’t we?  Consider President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” quote, which became such a staple of the Romney campaign that Mr. Obama made a counter-advertisement claiming: “Those ads taking my words about small business out of context—they’re flat-out wrong.”  Watch the video of “You didn’t build that” and decide for yourself if the president was more sincere when he spoke or when he backpedaled.

So double check everything BEFORE the event comes down to brass tacks.  If someone says, “it’s taken care of,” check it anyway.  Often two team members think they are on the same page when they are not.  Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”  You will never regret good work once it is done.  So often it seems that we want to work easily at work worth doing.  We want our work to be helpful and respected, but we do not want to struggle through our work.  We want our stomachs to be flat and our arms to be strong, but we do not want to grind through another workout.  We want the final result, but not the failed attempts that precede it.  We want the gold, but not the grind.

Anyone can want a gold medal. Few people want to train like an Olympian.  And yet, despite our resistance to it, I have never found myself feeling worse after the hard work was done.  There have been days when it was damn hard to start, but it was always worth finishing.  With all of the stress that goes into event creation, booking, contracts, endless phone calls at odd hours, surveying, meetings with team members, budgets and changes, why drop the ball at the 20-yard line just because you didn’t double check something?  It’s foolish.  Sometimes, just the simple act of showing up and having the courage to check everything once is going to make you an event hero.  In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

 

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