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Be Specific

This post will take you about 4 minutes to read.


Singing at the top of his lungs, windows down, a careless teenager approaches a stop sign. But he doesn’t halt.

He slows down. And rolls right through it.

A police officer crosses the intersection and the two cars smack together like bumper boats. Except no one is on the water.

The cop accelerates forward and flips his car around in a complete 180. And the blue lights flash to pull the man over.

The dinged up passenger door of the cop car flies open. And the officer jumps out, fists clinched, ready to enforce the law.

The teenager awkwardly awaits feeling like he just got cut off at karaoke. Rushing as a linebacker would a quarterback, the police officer shouts - “what do you do at a stop sign?”

The scared adolescent mumbles, “slow down.”

Do you follow directions? Or do you like coloring outside the lines?

Your day is filled with people trying to get you to do something. Whether it’s your spouse asking you to take out the trash, your professor asking you to submit homework, or your boss asking for her report.

People demand action. Yet people fail to be specific.

You say please let us know if you have any questions. Instead of asking a specific question.

Buy our product. Why? It’s better. Really? Why is it better? Specifically, what makes it better?

And the infamous, cable company. We will be at your house between noon and 5 p.m. That’s terrible. Unreliable. And just plan careless.

A beautiful example of the difference between being specific and ambiguous comes from Simon Sinek. Watch this two minute and thirty-seven second clip as he explains the importance.

Without direction you’ll end up no where.

Specific is clear. It builds trust. And it makes it personal.

This is the difference in being respected and ignored.

What Happens when you’re not specific

General Motors is in a crisis. The bureaucratic company is recalling more cars than it’s selling - that’s a problem.

It’s doesn’t help that the company is not specific about its recalls. Over 2 million cars with the same defects were not recalled until a decade after the issue was found.

If the company was specific, the failed mass production of the cars would not have occurred in the first place. The recalls would of happened a decade earlier. And the company wouldn’t be a walking embarrassment.

General Motors even went out of their way trying not to be specific - banning over 60 words that employees could not use. Watch as John Oliver destroys General Motors ridiculous actions.

Not being specific costs General Motors the trust of its customers.

What Specific Can do for you

The restaurant serves one type of dish. It seats 10 people. The price of food starts at $300. And it’s sold out every night.

Why? It’s damn good sushi. And its chef, Jiro Ono, is specific.

I get on the train at the same time and enter the same spot, everyday.

Jiro Ono, Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro Ono’s path to success starts with simple actions. Humans are creatures of habit. Jiro proves this with his routine when he gets on the train every day.

This routine is proof of the power of being specific. Exact is specific. The same time. The same spot. Jiro’s routine translates into how he cooks and runs his restaurant.

One apprentice made a dish hundreds of times over the span of months. And every time it failed to meet Jiro’s specific standards. When the chef finally made the dish to his taste - he cried.

Specific is not easy. But it make all the difference in the world.

“Slow down or stop?” The officer shouted back at the teenager. Again, the youngster claimed - “I slow down.”

The cop reached for his belly club, and began swinging at the side mirror of the car knocking it out of whack.

The teenager screamed - “STOP!”

And then cop asked a simple question. “Do you want me to stop or slow down?”

Be specific.