It would be nice if we were all judged by the collective good we do in our lives. Unfortunately, when it comes to work, we're generally judged by most people by how we deal with single issues.
Take a day off, and you're a sub-par performer.
Why's this on my mind? I'm consuming a lot of media about Lincoln over the last year. The best resource for me was the biography completed by Doris Kearns Goodwin - entitled Team of Rivals, which followed Lincoln over a long period of time and focused on the complex relationships in his life.
It had depth - 700 pages to explore it all. But when the movie came around, there's no time for that depth. With that in mind, the Daniel Day-Lewis movie entitled "Lincoln" framed the great president through the lens of one issue - his late drive to push through the 13th admendant and emancipate the slaves.
You and I will never work on a single issue that important. But we're being judged with our delivery on single items more than we care to understand, which makes consistency day to day, project to project and call to call all the more important.
It's workplace evolution at it's best. You either can deliver consistently - and which point you can be great - or you're merely good, and at times viewed by your peers as lame through the lens of a single issue they dealt with you on.
Remember the context today as you deal with someone you wish would go away. That call is more important than you think.