Quality Progress - December 2016 - 57


QUALITY IN THE FIRST PERSON

BY KATHLEEN KNUTSON

Choose the Oatmeal
Break stubborn habits and form better ones with quality tools
ANYONE CAN GOOGLE the definition of

know that isn't true. It takes more than

moment just because things don't go as

quality: "The standard of something as mea-

time to generate quality habits. It takes

planned. Be creative, show ingenuity and

sured against other things of a similar kind;

insight, drive and constant practice.

surprise yourself.

After graduating college, I realized that if

the degree of excellence of something."

1

There were times I made excuses for

From past experience, the more important

I wanted to become the person I was striv-

deviating from my improvement plan, and

questions we should ask ourselves are:

ing to be, I needed to make a change in my

those decisions led to disappointment the

What does quality mean to each of us? How

approach-not to just fix the symptom, but

following day, week or month. Each time, I

do we achieve it?

find the root of the problem.

realized that I needed to take ownership of

At that time, I wanted to lose weight.

A quote summarizing the teachings of

my own excuses, poor planning and lack of

Aristotle is, "We are what we repeatedly do.

I started to realize the weight wasn't the

focus. If I wanted to get closer to excel-

Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

problem-it was a symptom of the fact

lence, I could not let my past choices own

I believe that.

that I needed to be healthier as a whole.

my future.

2

If excellence, and therein quality, is a

To accomplish this, I started making small

habit, it's certainly something that should be

changes in my life-one habit at a time. I

them, we become accountable to our-

practiced daily. I am a perfectionist by nature.

set a series of small goals for myself with

selves-continually learning to be better

I strive to be excellent at everything I set out

achievement markers, not an "end."

by makes choices-big and small-that

to do. Therefore, I set high expectations for

I reached the first achievement marker

By recognizing our choices and owning

affect our lives-physically, emotionally

myself and those around me. Some days can

in nine months by losing more than 50

pose heavy mental burdens, but often that

pounds, but I haven't stopped improv-

challenges me to use quality in my daily life.

ing the entire process. The goal now isn't

and consciously think about how we are

I work as a consulting engineer in an

always to lose weight, but to continue to

speaking or eating, our posture or attitude,

industry where the reality of having the per-

make other quality decisions in my life.

we can focus on becoming more self aware

fect project doesn't exist. We strive for per-

Throughout the process, there were

and strive for excellence in each thing, thus

fection every single time-reviewing code,

struggles.

becoming more excellent as a whole.

and verbally.
If we break down our actions every day

I started by simply changing what I

Start with something simple and focus

work and repeating the process. But human

ate for breakfast: wholegrain oatmeal

on it each time you do it. Choose the oat-

error is simply not easy to overcome.

instead of sugary cereals. It progressed to

meal. Although it may never be completely

coordinating, meeting, double-checking

scheduled workouts and planned healthy

subconscious, it will become easier. That

cies are put in place so we can achieve

dinners. Life sometimes got in my way,

is the point when you know that you are

quality outcomes. We approach every proj-

however, and I would find myself working

ready to add a new quality habit. That is

ect knowing we will do our absolute best to

late or handling family emergencies.

your first step toward excellence. QP

To protect against this risk, contingen-

serve our clients. When the ball drops and

I had to push to continue to improve by

challenges arise, our response will show

choosing to make the healthiest choices I

the integrity and insight to correct things.

could when put in any situation-grilled in-

To me, excellence is just a degree below

stead of fried chicken in the fast food drive-

perfect because the realistic goal should be

through or a lunchtime walk to replace an

to get as close to perfection as possible. So

evening workout.

how do we get there and achieve quality and
excellence? By creating new habits.
There's a popular saying that it takes 21

Never give up
Putting in effort and a positive attitude

days to form a new habit. But if you have

always produced a better outcome than

ever tried a diet or recovery program, you

giving up. We can't ignore our goals in the

REFERENCES
1. "Quality," Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University
Press, 2013.
2. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and
Opinions of the Greater Philosophers, reissue, Simon and
Schuster, 2012 p. 87.

KATHLEEN KNUTSON is a project
engineer at RTM Engineering Consultants in Milwaukee, WI. She has
a bachelor's degree in architectural
engineering and electrical building
system design from the Milwaukee
School of Engineering.

December 2016 * QP 57



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - December 2016

Quality Progress - December 2016 - cover1
Quality Progress - December 2016 - cover2
Quality Progress - December 2016 - 1
Quality Progress - December 2016 - 2
Quality Progress - December 2016 - 3
Quality Progress - December 2016 - 4
Quality Progress - December 2016 - 5
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Quality Progress - December 2016 - cover3
Quality Progress - December 2016 - cover4
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