The Maximum Possible…

I would like to use this month’s reflection as a kind of inspirational chat to you all. Being an old soldier, I find it hard to drop certain habits and my learned disciplines. One of these I have tried to live my life by, quite simply put, ‘Do the maximum possible, not the minimum necessary’. No the most though provoking piece of advice but one I constantly come across in daily life with people doing just enough to ensure a task is finished but not going that extra mile to ensure the task was done to the best of their ability.

It was only this week when I went through one of my monthly rituals, the changing of the guitar strings. A set of strings on a guitar can be changed in around five minutes if you are in a hurry, indeed some pride themselves on how fast they can complete the task. Strings snipped off and discarded, new strings threaded, stretched and tuned, done! Nice and easy. Personally, it takes me around 40 minutes to change one set of strings. Once I’ve removed each string and disposed of them, I start cleaning the fretboard where the old ones sat. After all, the grease and dirt from my fingers go from me to the strings to the wood and fret wires below. While I have the cleaning cloth in my hand, I clean the body, the pickups, around the bridge, in fact the entire guitar gets a bit of cleaning love. That old military pride comes out during the cleaning, feels really good. Once I’ve got the guitar cleaned, I oil the friction surfaces where the new strings will sit. This ensures that the guitar will stay in tune and the strings will last longer. Now comes the restringing. I fit, tune and stretch each one individually until they are all complete. I will then ensure my tonation is set correctly and each string performs on every single fret on the fretboard cleanly. Once that’s done, I retune the guitar for a final time and it’s ready to play. But the fact that it plays beautifully and looks fantastic leaves me with a sense of achievement and completeness.

So what if I went for the speed record? The guitar would have a fresh set of strings but the guitar would be dirty, it would look nasty. Because I hadn’t taken the time to reset everything there would be playing and tuning problems, it may even sound horrible but at least I could brag to my friends how quick I changed my strings. But in bragging, my friends may look upon the task as a rush job with no pride, is this how he goes through life? Is this how much respect he has, or rather doesn’t have for his own things? It’s amazing how the little things we do in life reflect on our whole being especially in the eyes of those around us.

I like to refer to the Bible every now and then when writing my reflections. So try this verse at Proverbs 13:4: ‘The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.’

Try looking around in your life to situations where you could have done the maximum possible and not the minimum necessary. See the effect it has on your life.


  1. “The Maximum Possible” is a cool article. Do your best, take pride in what you do, and do it with love.

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