Save Time and Energy – Read the Instructions!

Had to laugh at myself this morning. I was assembling a garden bench. “This should be suck-eye (‘simple’ in trini vernacular)” I looked at the diagram, made sure I had all the nuts, washers, bolts, spanner and allen key and set out to work.

Well when I tried to attach the seat – it couldn’t fit. So I thought perhaps I wound the sides too tight – let me loosen all round, connect the seat and then finish up with the back. That went fine, except now it appeared as if the back was too short! What! I have to return this! They sold me a defective garden bench! Jeez!!!!!

After about ten minutes of effort- forcing the back to fit – lol – you guessed it right 🙂 – I returned to the instructions.

Have you ever seen labels on things and just figure they were there for factory purposes? Well upon re-reading the instructions I found this line that was actually first in the paragraph of overall instructions “Please be noted that the leg with a sticker marked with “A” is the RIGHT LEG and “B” is the LEFT LEG. Bingo. Me found za problem! D-uh.

Up until my epiphany, I was working (and dripping with sweat) for a steady 45 minutes.

Once I found my error I had everything up in less than 15 minutes!

I started to think about what I had learned from the process. So here are my lessons which I know you’ll benefit from as well:

  1. Read the instructions. No – don’t look at the diagrams, gloss over and think that you know. Read it for understanding. Are you clear? So many times in life we skim over things for the gist and conclude that “we know” about x or y. “No you don’t!” Until you understand thoroughly the information on hand you still just have a vague idea as to what needs to be done.
  2. Follow the instructions. Sometimes even after reading the instructions we then proceed to do it our way which I’m not sure is just an ego thing or sheer stupidity lol. It’s one of those human quirks: “sure it says to attach back D to legs A and B first but I think it could be completed by attaching seat C first – it doesn’t really matter. Yes it does. Details matter. Assume there is a good reason for doing things in the way outlined.
  3. When things don’t work out take full responsibility. In my case I did read part of it, thought I understood based on the diagrams and because I assumed that the sides were the same I ran into a lot of problems, and spent more time on the project than I needed to. Sure I could blame the manufacturers or the instruction writers but the truth is it was my own damn fault!

We must all beware of our shortcut mentality. Because we want to get through it fast we make assumptions and throw in our own steps. As you see, this does not work and we end up not saving any time and expending far too much energy.

So in the 13 steps to riches outlined in Think and Grow Rich – eliminate one and risk sabotaging your own success.

When I tell clients that before they go into business for themselves they need to be clear about their business choice and not just talk about ‘doing something with the environment’ or ‘ starting a store selling sweets’ – sometimes I can see them get a little anxious. They just want to get into the  growing the business part. More needs to go into this step – the first step. If ignored, again, you will most likely not succeed in business. And usually this is where people will tell you that it’s the economy, or the market is saturated, or someone else in the same line of business knows more people than they do. But remember you have to take 100% responsibility. The reason the business did not work is because you forgot out, or glossed over a step.

Think about it.



Take responsibility

Now go build it (whatever ‘it’ is) – it’s much easier this way than doing it ‘your’ way – TRUST ME!

cartoon from
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