Rinse Your Cottage Cheese

I’m still working my way through Jim Collin’s classic book, Good to Great. The other day, I came across a concept that they called, “Rinsing your cottage cheese.” The analogy came from a world-class athlete named Dave Scott. Scott won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon six times. To train for these events, he would ride his bike 75 miles, swim 20,000 meters and run 17 miles. A day. Every day. Yeah, nuts, right? 

Clearly, he didn’t have a weight problem; still he believed that sticking to a strict low-fat, high-carb diet would give him an extra edge. So he would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off of it. Sounds crazy, but he did win the Ironman six times, so I guess he has something going on.

Now, what does any of this have to do with being a church tech? Well certainly some of us could stand to rinse our cottage cheese (and perhaps lay off the fried cheese sticks…). But that’s another post. No, the point of the analogy is that when you’re striving to get really good at something, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and attention to detail. Seemingly small details, like rinsing your cottage cheese, will make you just a little bit better. 

How does this play out? I think it will vary from person to person, but for me it’s a lot of small details. For example, I always do things the exact same way. This is something I learned early in my career; find a system that works and do it the same way every single time. My board is laid out the same way each week. I cable the stage the same way every week. The only time it changes is if I feel I can improve on it. 

I also take the time to label stuff. Sometimes it looks excessive (like labeling the RJ-45s that plug into my network switch at FOH), but when we’re having a networking issue, it’s really nice to be able to quickly see if the SD8 has network lights flashing without having to trace the cable back.

All of the input connections on my stage rack are labeled, not just the snake channel, but what it is supposed to be. That seems excessive until you have a card failure on Sunday morning and need to repatch the system while the band is on stage waiting to rehearse. 

We record the message in 4 different formats on three different machines each week. Again, it seems excessive until the one week when the first 3 fail and you still need to get the podcast up on the web. 

So much of what we do as techs comes down to little details. I use a lot of snapshots every week, but on every transition from music to prayer, I always run the speaker’s mic up manually then fire the snapshot so I don’t miss the first words. I also push it up a little higher than normal so he carries over the band while the snapshot takes the band down to underscore level. It’s a little detail, but it makes a difference. 

Those are just a few examples. What little things do you do that add up to a better overall experience on the weekends?

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