I read a short story a while ago that has really stuck with me because it resonates with situations I come across in my work. There are various versions of this tale in existence but please take a moment to read this one:

A giant ship engine failed. The ship’s owners spoke to several engineers but none of them could figure out how to fix the engine. Someone recommended they get in an old man who was known to have been fixing engines since he was young. The old man agreed to help and arrived with a large bag of tools. He immediately went to work and first inspected the engine very carefully from top to bottom. Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the man reached in to his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine sprung back into life. He then carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!

A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for $10,000.  “What?!” the owners exclaimed, “he hardly did anything!”  So they wrote a note to the old man asking for an itemised bill.

This is the breakdown of the bill they received back from the old man:

Tapping with a hammer……….             $2.00

Knowing where to tap………….     $9,998.00

This story teaches us that there is value in someone truly knowing how to do a job and being an expert in their field. It also tells us that while effort is important, having the experience to know where to apply the effort makes all the difference.

Next time you use the services of a professional, be it a doctor, lawyer, consultant or even real estate agent, it is worth considering the years of training and ‘practice’ they have under their belt and how refined their skills are to be able to give you best result you could hope for. It may appear as though they haven’t had to do much for the fee they charge but a specialist in their field will always make a job look easy because they know precisely how to respond to and efficiently deal with situations that present in their workplace environment.

Next time you are choosing a service provider in any industry my advice is to make sure you do your “homework” first. Don’t just focus on what they charge, but also give serious consideration as to how well they perform their role.  If someone can’t prove the value they bring to what they do then you are probably not talking to the best person for the job.

By Lee Stonell