Aim low and settle for less seems to be the modus operandi of many people today. But those who really go places, achieve great things and taste the pleasures of lasting accomplishments and success have an entirely different approach to life. They aim high and accept nothing less than the best.
In other words, they are particular! I’m the youngest of nine children. Our wonderful parents were constantly teaching us good principles both by example and instruction. We would hear them say things like “be careful,” “don’t take any wooden nickels” and “be good.” One of the admonitions our dad regularly gave us was, “Y’all be particular!”
That one has stuck with me right up to the present time. When he first looked me in the eye and told me that, I just thought it was another way of saying, “be cautious, be alert”—and that was part of it. However, as I began to examine this point more carefully, I realized that my father meant more than just urging me to be careful.
He also wanted me to be choosy, set the bar high and avoid mediocrity. Slipshoddiness and substandards were unacceptable with anything and any body, including my friends! Being particular means not being satisfied with sloppiness and inferiority. It is about wanting things to be done well and done right—producing higher quality and better results.
Consider for a moment, the practical application of this “y’all be particular” principle in every day living. Are we on time for work every day? What does our desk or work area look like? Where are our tools and in what condition are they?
What about our homes? If we are particular about this important part of our lives, we will spare no effort to keep them clean, organized and conducive to a pleasant atmosphere of love, relaxation and security.
Our health is a vital part of life that will break down if we do not take time to keep it built up and strong. How concerned are you about what you eat and how much? The right amount of sleep and exercise and a change of pace are some of the health practices that make the difference between sickness and vibrant healthful living. Are you particular about those requirements?
Driving is one of the areas of my life where my dad constantly urged me to be mighty particular. Always drive “full time,” he would say. Don’t let yourself become distracted. Be courteous, use the necessary signals and watch for the unexpected. He taught me to pay close attention and allow room to react safely when necessary.
A particular driver is a safe, common sense driver who will not become a hazard to himself or others!
Family is one of the most fertile environments in which to cultivate the practice of being particular—in marriage as well as parenting. Requiring daily chores, done well and with diligence, is a valuable gift parents can give their children. Donald A. Laird said on pages 7–8 of his book The Technique of Getting Things Done:
Those who have to hustle during their youth seem to acquire habits of effective work early and carry these productive habits through their active lives.
And it is unfortunate that many grow up without having the good training of regular daily chores in childhood to give them the habit of getting things done. Modern labor–saving conveniences and steadily rising standards of living have made children’s chores vanish. Nothing has yet been discovered to replace chores for developing hustle early in life.
The most important part of our lives in which to implement the highest quality effort and attention is Christianity. Thomas Paine said in his pamphlet “Common Sense”: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
Are we summer Christians and sunshine servants of God? He is a particular God and He wants us to learn, and live by, the highest standard of character and truth, which requires us to do the right thing and do it the best we can every time. That is why He says: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecc. 9:10).
My dad reminded me regularly to “be particular, son.” That loving admonition has directed me toward trying to live the right way and guided me away from the wrong way—which is laden with potholes and booby traps. Taking the time and effort to be particular will do the same for you if you put that principle into action in your life!