Words From My Father

Jeff Vann Home Page

While growing up, my father had a saying. It goes like this, “sometimes you have to do more than your best, sometimes you have to do what’s required.” Through the years, I’ve thought about that saying. I’ve gone from laughing to serious pondering. You see, my father was career Air Force and had a very high-forehead sense of humor. Since his passing ten years ago (yes I still miss him terribly), it has taken on an ever evolving meaning. I believe that its applications reach across the entire spectra of our lives; from family, to church, to work, athletics and beyond. With regard to being a parent, there are minimums, right? We should be doing what’s required for the well being of our children. Are we doing our best? Or, are we doing what’s required? Believe me, there’s a distinct difference. Everyone’s best is truly different, particularly when weighing in their own individual priorities (which is often times dubious at best). But talking about what’s required, that’s a whole different ball game. Now we’re talking about where the bar is. You see, the way my father meant it, sometimes what you think is your best is just not good enough. You need to rise above! You’ve got to find a way to do or accomplish what’s needed or required.

The same goes for all important aspects of our lives. Your profession, for example. I chose geotechnical engineering as a life-long profession. I absolutely love it. I wouldn’t consider anything else. But when it comes to relationships with employees, working through problems with clients or overseeing the operations of the firm, sometimes it is easy to not stay focused, and become frustrated. Is there an allowance for, “well I did my best?” If your best ended up doing what’s required (or at least gave you a shot), then yes. If not, then no. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a proponent of “failure is not an option.” That’s simply not true. Because, in fact, some of the best lessons are learned through failure (if you have an established learning curve). I would hope that our personal bars are set high, so that what is required can happen. Maybe it won’t, but it can!

At our firm, the bar is high. We are solution oriented. We have adopted the sense of “it doesn’t matter what we think our personal best is, there are some things that simply must get done.” I am proud of the employees of the firm for that reason. I think my father would be happy to see people living up to expectations and striving for success. Further, on any project we will not just do what could be perceived as our best; we will DO what’s required to promote long term clients, successful project completion, and enhancing the capabilities of our staff.