The Difference a Little Extra Effort Makes

Sometimes, success is simply a matter of making one small adjustment. For example, at 211 degrees, water is hot. But at 212 degrees it boils. This makes all the difference.

Sam Parker and Mac Anderson expanded on this simple metaphor in their short book, 212°: the Extra Degree. They wrote,

Raising the temperature of water by one extra degree means the difference between something that is simply very hot and something that generates enough force to power a machine—a beautiful, uncomplicated metaphor that ideally should feed every endeavor—consistently pushing us to make the extra effort in every task we undertake…. It reminds us that seemingly small things can make tremendous differences.

Think about it:

  • The margin of victory in the Men’s 800-meter Race in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games was only 0.71 seconds—less than one second!
  • The average margin of victory in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 (combined) over the last ten years has been 1.54 seconds. And the prize money for second place was less than half that of first place.
  • The average margin of victory for the last 25 years in all major PGA golf tournaments combined was less than three strokes.

The point is that it doesn’t take that much extra effort to win first place. What could you do if you were willing to push just a little bit more and break ahead of the pack?

Here’s how you can harness the 212° principle in your goal-setting:

  1. Choose one goal. Select the one that matters the most to you this year.
  2. Identify what’s at stake. Why is accomplishing this goal so important—to you?
  3. Write down 2-3 key actions. These are the ones that could propel you into the winner’s circle.
  4. Now execute! Stop planning. Stop stalling. Just get out there and do it.

I am reminded of a quote by Thomas Edison (also cited in Parker and Anderson’s book):

Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

How close are you right now?

You might want to show the video above to your team and then go through the exercise I’ve outlined together. It could make all the difference in accomplishing your most important goal for this year.

Question: Where could you make a little extra effort and accomplish big results? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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