Iconic world-class modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe gained notoriety with that quotation decades ago.
I thought of those words while slaving away on a long, arduous project with many details, every one of them important. Each needed to be perfect.
The funny thing about that project was the overarching concept was so simple. There was a problem, and this easy-to-understand concept was the solution. Defining and explaining this solution took just a few sentences. That’s often the case, that the concept is simple, all of a whole.
But then the next step was daunting: breaking the solution down into all the components and then into the many details, prioritizing them, creating budgets, timelines, delegations, and accountabilities. In other words, all those darn details.
And that’s when I thought about van der Rohe because his buildings look so simple (if you are not familiar with them a Google search will show you what I mean. Chicago has many examples). Yet, upon close inspection his level of visual simplicity requires many, many minute details, all executed to perfection to create his masterpieces.
That’s how I felt working on the details of this project. Each detail combines with several others to create a component, then a number of components combine with each other to create sub-systems, which eventually combine to create the finished project.
As I approached the end of the project it felt like, in a small way, I was approaching some sort of perfection as if the paper I was working on was glowing in radiant tones and the thought came into my head that this is what van der Rohe meant when he said, “God is in the details.”
My guess is there are a few projects sitting on your desk, each with a number of details, and all must be perfect. Put your tasks in perspective by thinking of all the thousands of details it takes to design a masterpiece of a skyscraper, and then get on with struggling through your details until your project is perfect.