Now that Halloween has come and gone for another year, I have to think about how much work goes into costumes and decorations for one day. Yes, I know that every holiday is really just “one day,” but at least Thanksgiving and Christmas are more like seasons than days.
This year, my work team and I decided we would be pirates for Halloween. I work for an amazing company, owned by an amazing man who allows us to be freely festive and decorate everything we can find in the office. Each area went all out and we had many visitors and trick-or-treaters who came to enjoy the atmosphere throughout the day. But this year was different for me. We started planning for Halloween in August. We spent a lot of personal time, energy and even money on putting together realistic props and other things to make our area totally amazing…and it was!
The problem for me wasn’t that I felt others didn’t appreciate us for being in the spirit; it was how all the details of what we had accomplished went totally overlooked. We crafted handmade dice, used real turkey drumsticks, turned our aisle into a wooden pier complete with pilings, made cargo crates and spent hours gluing gold coins to a tablecloth to create a treasure pile, etc. I even brought items from home for my “captain’s quarters” that were old and valuable, including eyeglasses from the 1800s and some antique books worth several hundred dollars. We had lights that made the walls look like water reflecting on them. We had paid attention to every detail, but in the end, no one really noticed. They enjoyed the theme but I think they would have been just as happy if we hadn’t gone to such great lengths. It was disappointing and even discouraging.
As I reflected Halloween night on the disappointment I felt over such details going unnoticed, I was struck with the eerie similarity it all had to “real” life. For those of us who pay attention to details, even the seemingly insignificant ones, it’s hard to understand how people can look at the same things we are looking at and not see the countless hours or huge amounts of energy and effort put into something we have either created or completed. We’ve all experienced great disappointment after having worked tirelessly on a project for work, home, church or some other organization, only to have others overlook the details that made it what it was. Most people don’t see the details; they only see the overall picture. For example, if you clean a spot on the carpet, no one really cares. People don’t notice if it isn’t there, but they sure notice when it is! One of the things Disneyland does so well is the details. Every tiny detail is paid attention to so that the guest is immersed in an experience like no other. Guests don’t notice the tiny details, but if they were missing, the experience would be lessened. It is the details that create the experience, but it is the experience that stirs the soul.
The vision we have for our lives, or the things in it, is important, but that vision only comes to life when we spend the time and effort on the details. It is the painstaking hours, days or even years we spend on the details of our lives that creates an overall experience that stirs the soul. It is the thankless and overlooked work we do that creates an end product or result that is appreciated, even though there is no concept of the amount of blood, sweat and tears we may have put into it.
People appreciate the scenes around them; few appreciate or even stop to consider all the “little” things that had to be taken care of for the scene to come to life. These “scenes” might be something as major as creating or building something amazing or as routine as making dinner, but each requires “behind the scenes” work that, in most cases, will not be appreciated. We must learn to find appreciation within ourselves for the hard work we do for others. Sure, we can decide it’s not worth it and resign ourselves to just doing what is necessary to get by, but nothing can replace the sense of accomplishment we get from doing something well. The harder you work on something, the greater the sense of accomplishment…and that is a feeling no one can take away from you.
We need to stop looking to outside sources to appreciate all the little things we do. We need to stop waiting for others to say “good job” when we already know in our hearts we did a good job. We need to stop pinning our feelings of success on the opinions of those around us and start understanding that true success comes from within. Taking care of the details to ensure an amazing experience, is not something we do for others; it is something we do for ourselves.
And the next time you find yourself enjoying a “scene” or person around you, maybe you should stop and look at little closer at all the intricate details that made it possible. You might be surprised to find that what is under the surface is far greater than anything that meets the eye.