The Smallest Details Matter the Most

There’s nothing more unfair than a day that the kids have no school but I still have to work. I will say, however, that one of the benefits is the ability to schedule an early early morning meeting (8:20 is PAINFULLY early), arriving back at the house to a hot breakfast that is ready to be served. 10:00 is the perfect time of day for breakfast, in my opinion.
I could smell the bacon before the door had completely unlatched, and two smiling faces peered out of the kitchen doorway. “Do you want to try the BEST pancakes EVER made?”
I knew the kitchen would be a mess. I knew the dog was eating bacon drippings on his dried out dog food at this point in the morning. I knew the pillows and blankets had not yet been cleaned up from the sleepover in the living room and that the television (along with every other energy draining appliance in the house) was still on. But the smell of bacon negates all of that in the blink of an eye.
They couldn’t wait for me to sit down…they begged me to just try one bite first…
I should have known. But they kept such amazingly straight faces…
Allow me to interrupt myself by mentioning that it is often the smallest of details that make the biggest impact on any given situation. Including directions within a wedding invitation for example. Small detail, but has the ability to cause many headaches if they are forgotten. The missed penalty in the Seahawks/Packers game this fall. Offensive pass interference may seem like a small detail to miss in the grand scheme of an entire football game, but this call (or lack of a call) changed the whole season by costing the Packers the game at the last possible moment. Income tax deadlines…small details on the calendar but large dollars in penalties and fees.
The failure to notice things that are in plain sight (or lack of attention to detail, in plain terms) actually has a clinical name. It is known as “Inattentional Blindness” or “Perceptual Blindness.” There have been many experiments conducted on the topic (which irritates me, quite honestly. What a waste of money. If anyone wants to study lack of attention to detail for a day, I have a few teenagers I could rent to you.) The studies include gorillas, computer images, clowns and cell phone users, and have been conducted on a clinical level since the 1970’s.
This “phenomenon” of Inattentional Blindness, researchers tell us, could be caused by any one of (or combination of) four things: 1) whether the detail is conspicuous or not, 2) the mental workload that a person is carrying, 3) expectations (for example, when a person expects the outcome to be a certain way, other possibilities can tend to be blocked out), or 4) capacity (quite specifically, the individual’s capacity to pay attention to things). Incidentally, magicians RELY on our Inattentional Blindness in order to successfully perform tricks right before our very eyes.
With regards to pancakes, I am here to tell you, rising up to the challenge of overcoming Inattentional Blindness is imperative. The amount of baking soda added to the batter this morning quite possibly could have whitened my teeth by two shades (who needs whitening strips?). Interestingly, the thickness of the pancakes remained somewhat close to normal, as did the initial few bites that were taken. It wasn’t until the aftertaste filled your entire BEING that you understood that something was drastically amiss, and at this point it was far too late to do anything about it. The most hope in sight was a box of cookies and a glass of juice to try to replace the bitter chalkiness running right down into my toes.
The laughter coming from the two breakfast specialty chefs in my kitchen is still echoing in the walls.

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