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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  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    Truly inspirational post! Thanks Michael.

    I decide to give a “little extra effort” in the area of communication since that’s the area where I am already seeing results.

    I especially like #4! If we are not intentional, sometimes we may get tied up with the previous three and before we realize, we quit. Interestingly, I wrote something along these lines in my today’s post! You may check it out here: http://joeandancy.com/2012/01/19/choose-not-to-quit/

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      You are certainly getting after it early enough!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Thanks for the additional content on topic.  

  • http://www.philippknoll.com/ Philipp Knoll

    “Choose one goal” is what resonates most with me right now. I find it easy to get motivated but just as easy to keep that motivation “unfocused”. There is that one goal – it is just hard stay on track and don’t get derailed by other tasks coming up.

    I’m certain that keeping focused on that one goal will make the difference.

    The “water” metaphor is the most powerful I metaphor I have heard in a while. It is so simple but only one degree changes everything.

    It makes me think that a lot of people might quite just a bit too early. Which tools and products would we be using today if their creators had had it in them to push further for just a bit more and get it completed.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I’m consistently guilt of having unfocused motivation. I’ll try to achieve multiple goals at once by wildly stabbing in every direction. It normally takes the process of failing at all of my “goals” simultaneously for the real winner to emerge. Then, I get to work.

      How do you plan on staying focused Phillipp? I know I can use some tips…

      • http://www.philippknoll.com/ Philipp Knoll

        Jason, the first thing I did was Outsourcing. I tried to get as many unfulfilling tasks as possible off my plate. Well, I guess I’m still in the middle of it. Outsourcing some programming and design work has worked very well for me. Office management is a difficult task as it is hard to find the right person to really fit the job.

        The main challenge is finding a healthy balance between going after projects that are the most fulfilling and promising but will only generate an income stream over time and spending time working on the day to day tasks paying your bills. With a family you need the constant money…

        I have today and tomorrow to finish all those day to day tasks as I will take the whole next week off to solely work on my passion project – building a new online tool / platform.

        What has help you? 

        • Tim Blankenship

          Good thread/conversation! Very helpful!

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          I’ve had some success recently with dedicating hours to specific goals. It helps me to stay focused on one task at a time.

          • http://www.philippknoll.com/ Philipp Knoll

            The more success you have with a task / project the more time you can assign to it. I started with hours dedicated to single tasks to keep focused. By now I switched to days and weeks dedicated to focused work. Making this a habit for 2012 could lead to dedicating 2013 to a single project only and making that truly big.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

    Great video, Michael! I’m going to show it to my classes today–all three of them are going into researching and writing term papers. What a way to start them out. Personally, I am working on finding time to promote my book, so that’s my goal. I may be a little slow at it, but I’m planning to build up a lot of steam to push my book out there because I believe it can bring joy to everyone who reads it.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Promote that book!

      Remember, a lot of work goes in to getting that water to 212 degrees…

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Great Patricia.  What is the book? 

      • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

        Sorry I’ve taken so long to respond–I just got back from school. I had a lot to prepare for next week. My job is the primary hindrance in promoting my book (God’s Absolute Love: Perfect, Complete, and Real); that’s why I self-published it (no threat of being pulled by a publisher). I love teaching and I’m committed to doing everything in my power to help my students be successful which takes a lot of time. So, I have been asking God to open some doors for me with the book because I don’t have time to seek them out.

        I want to get my book into people’s hands because I believe it can bring them joy as they delve into understanding the power of God’s absolute love for the human race and into understanding the depth of what Christ really accomplished on the cross.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    And the difference between dialing 212 and dialing 213 is the difference between calling NYC and calling L.A. 

  • Anonymous

    What a great concept. I’ve heard this stated as looking at a driving a ship. If you turn the wheel ever so slightly, and stay on that course, over time you will be in a very different place had you stayed on the original course.

    I’m going to turn my blog content up a degree this year. I usually let my wife edit and never look at my posts after writing them.

    • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

      Love that analogy. One little degree can mean a difference of hundreds or—depending how far you go—thousands of miles.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Thanks for the other comparison! Turn up that blog content!

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Turn it up a notch, Eric! BAM! ;)

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Love the analogy!

    • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

      Small changes made consistently over time can add up to make a huge difference. Balance is all about making those small, often simple, adjustments.

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

    It should be noted that it takes significantly more energy for the phase transition (boiling) than the actual one degree increase. Finishing the job can be more consuming than getting there. That is both a warning and an encouragement to press on.

    • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

      Your comment reminds me that this principle works the other way too. Being cold—but still adaptable & movable—water at 1ºC is only one degree away from being frozen, immovable ice at 0ºC. It doesn’t take much.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Oh wow. Powerful thought.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Great point Michael. 

      • http://www.nginaotiende.blogspot.com Ngina Otiende

        I agree Michael..great point.

    • http://twitter.com/robmccleland Rob McCleland

      “Finishing the job can be more consuming than getting there.” So true; it’s really tough work. But when you look back, the job is finished! Finishing well is difficult for many of us. But finishing well allows me to give full attention to the next challenge without looking askance at the remaining details that want to clutter my mind and work area.

      • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

        Right on, Rob!  John Maxwell says that you can generally group people into two categories … starters and finishers.  Many of us, myself included, have no problem coming up with great ideas, goals and plans.  It’s usually a challenge for us to finish, though.  It’s that step 4 in Michael’s post “Now Execute!” that makes the difference.  

  • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

    Reminds me of a time when my brother and I were kids and were trying to work up the courage to jump off a high bridge into a deep water gorge. We knew in our minds it was safe, but every other fiber of our being was refusing to budge.

    The breakthrough came when we realized we didn’t need to jump off the bridge, fall all the way down and enter the water. All we really needed to do was lean out far enough—a fraction of an inch past the point of no return—and everything would take care of itself.

    This is exactly what a group of us are doing with The Leap Challenge I mentioned earlier this week—helping people take the leap on one of their biggest dreams this year by accomplishing one simple task a day, every day for the month of February. On February 29, 2012 (Leap Day) we’ll all start the journey, having acquired the tools, the plan and the network needed to finally turn mere ambition into action. You can join us here: http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/leap-challenge/

    My big goal for this year is finishing my first book and the little extra that will make all the difference is carving out that little extra time each day. Over weeks and months, it really builds up!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      You’re right, Geoff. Writing, like many things, is doing that little extra bit each day. Can’t wait to hear about the book.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Countless books have been written in 30 minutes or a few hundred words a day.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Great post to start the morning. I attend a BNI networking group every Thursday morning at 7:30a. Last night was a little rough and I haven’t felt the greatest. When my alarm went off at 5 am I texted the president and said I wasn’t coming. 

    But that didn’t settle with me. I made a commitment to go and I knew I needed to go. So, here I am, out of bed, and I’m going. That’s not to say  a nap won’t be in the future, but I’m going. 

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      And you made time to comment on the post ;)

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Ha! You’re right.. And I was happy I made it to the meeting. 

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Definitely can see a nap coming your way.  

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        It’s soooo gonna happen!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Way to keep your commitment!

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Thanks Brandon.. 

  • http://twitter.com/croyseniles Christine Niles

    Timely and inspirational thoughts!  I’m doing this  with a goal of increasing awareness of and engagement with the 153 million orphans in the world.  My two actions are writing a blog series now and publishing an eBook next month.  

    I’m so close I can feel the breath of the orphans that could be saved.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Keep up the good work Christine. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      That is amazing! Keep it up!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Yes,
      Keep it up!

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I love that little book. It used to sit on the coffee table in my office and bring in lots of comments. It is such a simple premise, yet it is easy to get stuck at 211. One of the biggest obstacles is “perfection.” If you are going for perfect, you’ll never finish. Instead go for excellence, and then add small improvements over time.

    My goal this year is…

    This shocking goal setting secret is listed here… http://goals4u.us/tu6vSA

    • http://www.philippknoll.com/ Philipp Knoll

      True, perfection is a real momentum killer. I had that happen to projects I was passionate about before. They never got off the ground as I believe they were not ready. In the end they never saw the light of day. 

      How great could they have been if I let go of perfectionism and just got them published. There is always room for improvement later.

      • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

        Phillip,
        I am with you. I was fighting the perfection thing even when I was just giving a first draft to my editor and agent. My first drafts ALWAYS stink! writing is rewriting! Thanks so much for your comments!

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      If I waited for perfection, I would never finish a job.

      • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

        Ben,
        I am with you!

    • Jim Martin

      John, you make a great point about “perfection.”  It is so easy to get lost and frustrated in the quest for perfection.  Far better, as you said, to go for excellence.

    • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

      Perfection is huge obstacle at times. I’m going to change my thinking to focus more on excellence. After all, I can’t remove something (perfectionism) without replacing it with something else (excellence) unless I want something undesirable to move into the void.

    • Rachel Lance

      I live your distinction between perfection and excellence. I think, for some, the struggle to stay on the excellence side of the spectrum can be a daily one. If you’re bent towards perfection you have to be ruthless about keeping it in check so it doesn’t turn on you and become a weakness.

  • Judypalnau

    I’ve written down my goal and I’m moving forward.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Go for it!  What is the goal? 

  • Anonymous

    Like I said, I am going to start reading your blog  and this post is great! 

    I am going to start putting even more effort into my own blog because that is where I focus most of my time and energy these days. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Joshua, thanks for stopping by and reading the blog. You will gain great insight from Michael.

      Have you thought of connecting your blog to your discuss account? It will allow people to click on your name and visit your site.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not too great with technology and such so I am still trying figure all of that out. That is partly why I am going to put more effort into it, haha.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          It’s not hard to do at all. Here’s how you would do add it –

          Go to Disqus.com
          Sign into your account
          Put the mouse over your username and a drop down menu should appear
          Click on EDIT PROFILE
          Click on PROFILE
          Enter your blog address in the field marked WEBSITE
          Click on SAVE CHANGES

          And you should be set!

          • http://www.setongod.com/ Joshua OneNine

            Thank You! I tried to do that earlier but it didn’t work for some reason… I have my own website now so I was able to fix the problem. Thanks again.

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    That is motivating. Go the extra effort every time.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Ben … I like your comments here on the site. You’re always succinct, to-the-point, and insightful. Thanks for taking the time to be a part of the MH community!

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        Thanks, Justin! From one Iowan to another, I appreciate it.

  • Will

    This post is ridiculous. You can’t just pick one goal or do something without planning. Useless giberish.
     
    And btw steam can be created at 211 degrees…

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Will, Michael doesn’t make the case to pick one goal and just do something. Step 2 encourages you to find out what is at stake and step 3 encourages you to figure out what the key steps you need to take are. That’s the planning stage.

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    Thank you for a powerful visual! I’m sharing it with my seniors this morning. 

    Some actually need to ease up on their intensity so they have energy available for other areas of their lives. (The student with 105% will receive the same A as the student with 95% but with far more unrewarded stress!)

    Many need to kick it up a notch and could just use a reminder.

    Others feel like it’s hopeless, that they’re so far behind, nothing will help. 

    I believe this will speak to all.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Cheri – I love the analogy of 105% receiving the same A as student going at 95%. Good point. 

    • Jim Martin

      Cheri, this is a powerful visual,isn’t it?  I like the way you have expressed the needs of certain people in your group.  While I often fall under the category of needing to “kick it up a notch,” I do realize that not everyone is there.  Thanks.

    • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

      I’m going to share this with my boys (11 and 13) too. I hope they have teachers like you to reinforce it at school!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        I wish I’d had such a teacher! I lost a lot of sleep over receiving an A- rather than an A+. Ridiculous.

        • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

          Yeah, me too. I remember wanting so badly for someone to push me and to teach me how to reach for goals. I figured it out on my own eventually, but oh to have had that guidance earlier in life.

        • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

          “Ridiculous.”

          Yes, but it felt so vital when it was happening! Wasn’t sure why I was killing myself for those extra few % points, but there had to be a good reason, right? (!)  

          Riiiiiight.

          My “new year’s resolution” for 2012 is to examine where I’m investing my time/energy and shift it from areas that really aren’t producing results I care about to areas where it will.

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            Riiiiiight. At least it makes for good stories when my parents come in town. My kids get a good laugh out of it. ;)

            By the way, your goal for 2012 is a good one. One I should adopt as well.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I’ve heard of the 212 degree principle many times yet never heard of the book. I’ll have to pick it up.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      I’m in the same boat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/phillipshumake Phillip Shumake

    Just what I needed to start my day!  Thanks!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Phillip, glad the post was a part of starting your day off in a great way!

    • Jim Martin

      Phillip, you are right, reading such a post is a great way to start the day.  A post like this one is a reminder to not waste the day on matters that are really not priorities and to put more focused energy on things that are.

  • Rob Sorbo

    I’ve been working on losing weight. I started using the LoseIt app on my phone back in October and I was really successful through Christmas, then (for no known reason) I quit losing weight. Right now I’m keeping my calories down to a level that I should be losing 2 pounds a week, but I’m only maintaining. I know the next step is to start adding exercise, and that’s the next big hurdle I’m not quite ready to tackle yet.

    Another goal I’m interested in pursuing, but haven’t been very proactive in is advancing my career. I do very well at my job (even my manager told me that my next job would probably be in a leadership position), but I haven’t had any opportunities to move forward.

    • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

      I’m having the same weight loss struggles, too. Hang in there!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Rob, there are many reasons you may have reached a plateau. One reason may be that your body has adjusted it’s metabolism to match your food intake. I know you said you’re not ready to take it to the next level and start exercising. But it may be the thing holding you back.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I started using LoseIt at the end of October. It has been a great help! On Monday I started working out. Nothing much, I have been doing a few pushups and situps as well as walking up and down my stairs a few times. I want to ease into working out so I do not get discouraged. 

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        Stairs are a great introduction to exercising! That was one of the first items I used when I started using LoseIt. Keep up the great work Brandon.

        • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

          Thanks! I ran track and cross country in high school and was in pretty great shape but since then I have not worked out in any way consistently. Every time I start I get really discouraged because my mind tells me I should be better. So this time I am starting out slowly and making small amounts of progress at first so I can see myself improve.

          • Rob Sorbo

            I hear ya–I was a jock in high school and college. Unfortunately, I was a lineman in football, heavy weight in wrestling, and a prop in rugby–now I’m just a inactive fat guy.

        • Rob Sorbo

          I work on the sixth floor, so that’s a little more than I’m comfortable going up, but I try to go down the stairs everyday as I leave. 

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Rob,
      At least you have identified the areas that you want to tackle in the coming year! My old boss used to always say that you eat an elephant one bite at a time! So I would ask myself, “what does the next bite look like?” Keep going buddy!

  • http://www.communicationartistry.ca/ Marnie Hughes

    Another post that hits the nail on the head. I often have to calm my mind when the swirl of too many goals starts to take over. FOCUS and ACTION get me farther every time. Thanks Michael!

    • Jim Martin

      Marnie, great point!  I’ve experienced the same.  You are right when you say that the swirl of too many goals starts to take over.  I have also found that a focus on action steps gets me farther down the road.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Marnie, Focus + Action is a great equation.  

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I have the problem of taking on too much at once and then losing focus. I really like the idea of focusing in on one goal.

      • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

        Brandon,
        I wonder if that’s a Youth Pastor thing? I relate X 1000.

        • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

          It must be!

  • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

    I could make a little extra effort towards my losing weight goal. I have put in 2 days of working out so far, but I need to amp it up and end the week with another 2 days. These need to be hard workouts!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      I definitely think the extra push with two additional days would put you in the winner circle!

  • Shane Cheek

    One of the best posts you’ve ever done Michael! Simply outstanding!!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Shane,
      Glad to see that it was so encouraging to you!

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  • http://twitter.com/iamlill Lill O’Neall Gentry

    WOW!!! Make my day.  Thanks

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Glad the post was helpful, Lill.  

  • http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/ Elizabeth Hill

    When I set my goals I also write down what will keep me from succeeding and find solutions to them.  At that point if you aren’t successful you have no “excuses” to fall back on.  That’s a great motivator for me since I don’t want to just admit that I’m lazy when I don’t make it to the gym!

    • Jim Martin

      Elizabeth, what a great idea!  Thank you for passing this on.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      That is an interesting point.  Have you seen eliminating excuses be helpful in the New Year? 

      • http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/ Elizabeth Hill

        I have found it helpful.  One of my goals was exercising on a regular basis.  By identifying my excuses (out of my way, boring, pool to crowded, etc) I was able to find a gym that pretty much eliminated every barrier I identified.  Committing to going in the morning eliminated the work and family excuse. 

        Fundamentally we all want to succeed but grasp as the excuses that keep us from doing that, most of the time they are real problems.  If I can solve the issues beforehand I find that I have a better success rate. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      That is some great advice!

  • Guest

    We practice this principle where I work and it truly does make a difference.

  • http://www.susanbiali.com/ Dr. Susan Biali, M.D.

    Love it. I usually ask my coaching clients to identify the next step they need to do to get to their goal – I like the idea of coming up with two or three as you suggest here. When I did this exercise just now, #3 was the action that surprised me (I already knew I have to do #1 and #2 and am doing them). And if I actually did that 3rd action? The results would surely be amazing. Thank you again, Michael!

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      I agree with you! By the way, I checked out your website…it was very impressive!

      • http://www.susanbiali.com/ Dr. Susan Biali, M.D.

        Thanks Brandon – and I’ve always wished I could play the guitar : )

        • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

          Dr. Biali,
          I checked out your website too, and Holy Cow! Is there anything you don’t do? Dr! Life Coach! Dancer! Awesome! And I really appreciate your comment about working with people to find what “the next step” is in order to accomplish a large goal. Very insightful!

          • http://www.susanbiali.com/ Dr. Susan Biali, M.D.

            Er, actually, there are plenty of things I don’t know how to do – for example I’ve no clue re. how to roast a chicken and if I ever threw a Thanksgiving dinner it would either be catered or potluck, ha!  I’m in awe of domestic goddesses…

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

          The guitar is awesome! If one were to visit my website, they would quickly figure out that I am passionate about worship and guitars! It’s a great instrument, and it is never too late to pick it up!
          http://www.bigb94.info

    • Jim Martin

      Susan, I really like the way you ask your coaching clients what the next step might be that will move them toward their goal.  This is helpful. 

      • http://www.susanbiali.com/ Dr. Susan Biali, M.D.

        Thanks Jim –  It’s very simple but truly I’ve found that it’s extraordinarily helpful for people – my clients are often overwhelmed by what they want to achieve and may feel paralyzed, but when I ask them what small step they need to do next they can virtually always tell me. It can be discouraging to look at a faraway mountain peak (seems so immense and like it would take forever to get there) but if you keep your eyes on the part of the trail that’s right ahead of you it can be surprising how quickly you find yourself standing on that peak!

  • Anonymous

    Mine’s silly: ten pullups in 2012. But it’s really important to me — I want to be stronger. I don’t want to be weak. And it’s a fitness goal that doesn’t focus on eating 90-calorie meals or do anything other than build strength.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I like the way you think about fitness. Counting the pounds isn’t nearly as satisfying or motivating as achieving a functional goal. Having an eye on pullups, rather than a number, will certainly help you go the extra degree.

      • Anonymous

        thanks! :) also in a few months I can be “that person” — hi, I can do ten pull ups!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Babich/100002993676826 Jane Babich

    This is very inspiring… the 212 degree concept is also going to help me better determine if a goal should even be on my list for 2012.  If I am not willing to put forth 1 more degree of effort… is that a goal important to my purpose in this season? THANKS!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      You make a good point, Jane. Sometimes our goals don’t have staying power, often because it’s a goal we don’t yet buy into.

  • Omololuoye

    “When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” Jacob Riis quotes. This blog post reminds me of this quote. thanks for sharing

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thanks for sharing the quote!

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    This is a post that I not only want to share with my audience in general but that I want to share with a few specific people because of the unique application to their lives. First, my husband is VP for a steam company, and you can imagine the application he could make with this video & book in his company. I’m excited about that! Second, my boys (11 and 13) need to see this. They often do the minimum needed to get by in sports & school. Finally, I’m going to show this to my pastor. I would love for him to focus on this in a sermon. So much of our church’s challenges could be overcome with this concept. Of course, I need it too. I am pretty motivated anyway, but I realize now that I can still take it (blogging & writing) up a notch. After my spending fast (wrote a post on it at http://www.struggletovictory.com), I want to buy the book too.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Wow. Thanks for reading and sharing Kari. I’m interested to hear what your kids thought of the video…

      • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

        My oldest son say he thought it was “cool” and made him want “do more.” That’s a lot coming from a 13-year-old boy. 

  • Tim Blankenship

    That is powerful! Thanks! Great source of encouragement!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Glad the post encouraged you, Tim. Anything in particular?

  • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing this post. The video was cool!

  • http://twitter.com/dennisbrooke Dennis Brooke

    Great analogy of the difference one degree makes. Personally, I’m focusing on a rewrite of a novel to get it ready for a contest. It’s a long road but I’m optimistic I’ll see it published one day.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      The fact that it’s ready for a rewrite means you already wrote the rough draft. That’s the most daunting part! Congrats on achieving the first goal, Dennis. Impressive. Now run strong to the end!

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a GOAL I need help with. I have been somewhat overwhelmed by the conflicting opinions that abound on the weighty subject of  “Open Theism”. My goal is to read some good books on the subject. I haven’t read this one, click on this link, and if you have read it please leave a comment there for me to read – http://wp.me/p26vgp-3v via @wordpressdotcom or suggest one that you believe is better and your reason/s if possible. Thank you in advance.

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    For me it would be to not be lazy this year and make sure I post three times a week on my blog!

    • Rachel Lance

      Not being lazy is a really big goal! Focus on that second one about three blog posts and work through the steps Michael listed. What are your action items?

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        Write, read, write!

        • Rachel Lance

          It’s a daily discipline for sure! Sometimes I feel as if I deserve a flashing billboard hovering in front of me wherever I go, reminding me to write write write!

  • Marilyn

    Thank you, Michael for your timely post.

    I have just retired from teaching and am looking for the next exciting adventure, in the meantime I decided to start a blog.

    I have been getting ideas for writing posts, etc from reading many of your posts. My goal has been two posts a week and already am backtracking and procrastinating with the latest post due yesterday.

    While this may not be my goal for the year, it is part of the big picture. It’s point 4 that inspires me, that, and Edison’s quote. Thanks again.

    • Jim Martin

      Marilyn,  so glad that you gained inspiration from this post.  I wish you the best as you transition to the next chapter of your life.

  • http://www.joyjoyg.com/ Joy Groblebe

    I love this!  Very much like Tony Robbin’s idea of 2 mm.  Especially love the line…stop planning and just get out there and do it!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’m partial to that line, too. “Get Œer done!”

  • Anonymous

    Great post as always Michael! Writing the goals down is so important. I have also found that creating a system of accountability in respect to goals is also crucial. Otherwise, I write them down and then forget about them. I have an excel spreadsheet that I enter my progress into. It works wonderfully to help me stay on top of it.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Right on, Burl!  Doing the exercise in a team environment provides built-in accountability.  Accountability is especially effective when the accountability partner receives benefit from the achieved goal.  

  • http://twitter.com/GoalsOnTrack Harry Che

    Great insight. In addition to extra effort, persistence is also important. Personally I think it’s the most important of all factors in reaching goals.

    • Rachel Lance

      Persistence is definitely a key. Isn’t that quote from Edison just nail it? How close are you?

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    A few of the most profound key actions I’ve taken in the last year actually have nothing to do with a goal…they are just about being a better me.  That said, I have no doubt they are raising my temp that critical 1 degree and powering me toward bigger goals!

    1. Read EVERY day.  Have a book handy at all times, read 2-4 pages even on the walk to the kitchen/restroom/water cooler…great ideas feed new great ideas.

    2. Quiet time EVERY day.  I originally picked this up from Jack Canfield, then tweaked it to make it my own.  I do a breathing exercise for about 2-3 minutes (sounds silly, but forces you to concentrate), then pray for a few minutes (gets you thinking about the big rocks), then just close my eyes / cover my ears and completely zone out.  It’s quiet, but not for long.  Soon the ideas start coming.  Priorities for today, things I’ve forgotten, new ways of saying something…the world is just so noisy, but you don’t realize it until you open your eyes and ears again.  I believe this is key to hearing God’s whispers.

    3. Drink WATER.  No diet Coke, no coffee…hard at first, but within 2-3 weeks the appetite for that stuff goes.  More energy, better concentration…

    4. Get some type of exercise EVERY day.  Whether it’s a workout, a run, or simply taking whatever I need to read and do it while I pace the top deck of the parking deck, I’ve decided that this one is too important to skip, especially after reading Dr. Ratey’s book, SPARK.

    Cheers!

    • Rachel Lance

      Hi Travis, you list some great principles for optimizing a life in general. But I think Michael is referring to going a step further and really fine tuning one area in particular. Is there one skill or area of life you can think of that you could put over the edge with the little extra effort Michael describes?

      • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

        Very good point.  I think the one area where I’ve tried to get particularly more intentional is SOCIAL MEDIA.  I have more or less ‘tinkered’ with the social media space in times past…writing occasional articles, following others, etc.

        About six months ago, I made a game out of it…I give myself 10 “points” for writing a blog post, 2 points for commenting on someone else’s post, and 1 point for twitter activity…and set a goal to try to score 20 points/week.

        Some weeks it’s effortless…but it’s often the very next week that I would have otherwise unwittingly let is slip.  Now that I actually keep track, I make sure I’m consistently scoring…and the path of least resistance (greatest points) is writing that blog post…slaying that dragon / eating that frog.

        I think that helped me write more blog posts in the last year than ever before…which ultimately led to a guest spot here on Michael’s blog and quite a few others!

        Thanks for pushing this dialog further!

        • Rachel Lance

          I love your point system! I might just have to design one for myself. Thanks for sharing the great idea!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    This principle could be applied in several areas of my life. Persevering and holding on are great virtues in our journey of life.
    Going the extra mile always do the trick.

    • Jim Martin

      Uma, you are right, the difference may be in going the extra mile.  I’ve certainly seen this in my own life.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Agreed Jim!

        Subject: [mhyatt] Re: The Difference a Little Extra Effort Makes

  • Josh with Tech4thewin

    Great Post,

    Check out my blog
    http://tech4thewin.wordpress.com/ 

  • Michelle

    Wow, awesome post!!  Thank you, Michael.  I have just started a new job, and this is very inspirational; certainly something to keep in mind during the day.

    Where I want to apply this is to my finances.  I recently was inspired to pay off a couple of bills with my tax return, then I got some good news about one of my loans, then remembered an upcoming bonus, then was offered an assignment that’ll pay a little extra.  I came up with a few ideas, then settled on paying off my debts by the end of this year!!  Now I am so excited about the possibility of being debt-free by the end of the year (when things were looking pretty hopeless just a few months ago).  This is just the beginning.  Recently, I have heard a few sermons where the pastor encouraged people to become debt-free before considering marriage.  Just a few months ago, this looked impossible, now it seems to be very do-able! 

    • Rachel Lance

      What a great goal! There are a lot of great resources out there to go hand in hand with your excellent motivation and equip you to meet that goal. I encourage you to work through the steps Michael listed and refer back to your answers frequently to help stay motivated and on course.
      You can do it!

  • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

    I needed this. `Thanks Michael. I am off to make a movie called Lucky & Rich. Enjoy it when it hits the cinema!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Geoff,
      Sounds really cool. When will it be released? is it in post? What type of camera did you shoot it with? AWESOME! Where can we find out more?

      • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

        Hi Barry,

        Thanks so much for your question. Lucky & Rich is a romance/tragedy. A raw story with a lot of heart and inovation.

        It is fully scripted, budgeted and ready to go. When it came to getting the money for it… I got a little scared and pulled back in all honesty.

        But now I am ready to go again… It is really is a story that needs to be told. For more info you can email me geoffreytalbot@gmail.com

  • Vedawattie Ram

    I wrote three articles on Parenting With A Purpose since 2005 and reworked them in 2008 always promising to publish them.  I now must send them for review and critique. Michael, you literally have made a difference in my life. Thank you!

    • Jim Martin

      Vedawattie, good for you!   You have already invested so much in your articles.   Now you are going to take the next step.  Very good!

  • http://tangoleadership.wordpress.com/ PoulAndreassen

    The uniqueness of
    your article is indeed something that is influential in nature, Many of
    life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when
    they gave up. Let us not give up hope, if we have started for something let us
    end up reaching it.

    Thanks for sharing it in such a delightful
    manner..!

  • http://www.transformingleader.org/ Wayne Hedlund

    I work with a lot of pastors. Among other things I get a chance to listen to their preaching and sometimes provide strategic feedback. Often, the difference between a ‘good’ sermon and a ‘great’ sermon is 1 more hour of preparation after they ‘think’ they are ready to preach. For most pastors, that hour is well spent finding one more illustration and rehearsing the message out loud. It can make that 1 degree difference.

    I get to practice what I preach today. Speaking at a local church in PA. The first thing I’m doing this morning is that extra hour.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      It’s interesting to note as a pastor that I didn’t seek feedback from a core group, but, as a writer, I find critique partners invaluable. I applaud your efforts in offering strategic feedback.

      By the way, I assume “today’s” practice has happened. How well did it go?

      • http://www.transformingleader.org/ Wayne Hedlund

        Thanks for asking. The ‘practice’ went well, although it went longer than an hour as I decided to switch some things around. 

        And now I’ve also shared my message and I feel really good about how it was delivered and the response. It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’ve communicated clearly what you believe the Lord had put on your heart!

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          Glad to hear it went well.

    • Jim Martin

      Wayne, what you are saying is very true.  That extra hour can make a huge difference.  These people are very fortunate to get your feedback and help.

      • http://www.transformingleader.org/ Wayne Hedlund

        Thanks Jim.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Very inspirational post!  Thanks!

    My area of effort would have to be delegation.  Sometimes it’s so much easier to do things myself than involve others.  But involving others is exactly what I need to do.

    • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

      My husband had to learn to delegate over the past two years, and he’s still struggling with it. Like you, he knows it’s easier to just do the work himself. But, it gets to the point where doing the work yourself is simply impossible. He’s made a lot of progress over the past couple of years, so I know it’s possible if you deliberately focus on it like you want to do. Go for it! you’ll be glad you did.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I know.  Sometimes it seems so much easier to do it myself, and save the time it would take me to teach someone else to do it.

        • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

          Yeah, I’ve definitely heard my husband say that more than once. Plus, he’s a very efficient and hard worker (farm boy background), so it’s  hard for people to keep up with him (I can’t.). Yet, as he’s made delegation a focus, he sees more and more possibilities. As with most things in life, it’s a gradual learning process. Just small steps over time are adding up to make a big difference for him.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I completely understand and agree 100%.

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          You learn as a parent that it’s easier initially to do it yourself rather than have your child do it (mow the lawn, wash the dishes, etc.). But you also know that it becomes more difficult in the long run if you don’t teach your son or daughter life’s lessons. For me, it’s not the teaching as much as it is the asking. I find it hard to ask for help or to invite others to participate.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I agree.  As a parent of 5, I completely understand.  I’m continually trying to find new ways to involve my kids in the family life creatively. 

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            Ever consider dairy farming using 19th century farming methods? I think the modern term is “organic” farming. ;-)

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Lol!

  • http://SacredRoutine.com/ Jodi Schumm

    Thanks for the reminder that a little extra effort can reap great rewards. It’s discouraging when I think about my lack of time to “get it all done.” Yet focusing “a little bit more” on one of my goals is very realistic.

    • Jim Martin

      Jodi, I really like the last word in your comment.  “Realistic.”  This post is valuable to me for that very reason.  A little extra effort toward one of my most important goals is realistic.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Outstanding!

  • http://twitter.com/timage Tim Milburn

    I love this metaphor. Extra effort separates ordinary from extraordinary. Sometimes it’s simply doing a bit more than the average. But we often don’t know what is average and what is excellent. It’s easy to know when water is at 211* because we can measure the temperature. 212* is easy to see because the water reacts by boiling. It’s more difficult to gauge and measure where we’re at in our personal tasks, goals, and dreams. Doing one more thing may only result in greater busyness rather than desired outcomes. It’s so important to work toward something measurable (what) and meaningful (why).

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    After  reading through the comments, the thought struck me again about how comparisons really get us into trouble. If we compare ourselves to others, it’s easier to do less than what is excellent for us. Average is easy, and excellence takes work. We must leave out making comparisons if we ever hope to achieve an above-average life and reach the excellence that God has planned for each one of us.

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    I totally get what you’re (TNeal) saying about finding it hard to ask for help or ask others to participate. I just always think they should offer. My husband helps balance me in this area. He tells my kids to help me and that I won’t always ask when I need it. He also reminds and encourages me to ask for help. I need to learn to do this because I find myself growing resentful when others don’t help me even though I didn’t ask. I also need to learn to let others help me when they do offer. Why is it so hard to say “yes” to an offer for help when we do receive it? Pride?

  • W. Patrick Jones

    It is an inspiring post to put in the extra effort, but to say that it doesn’t take much extra effort to win first place is a bit of a stretch.  I don’t know much about running, but when it comes to auto racing, there is an amazing amount of technology, knowledge, experience, and other things that make the difference between first and second.  

    I guess I just wanted to say that, sometimes, it takes an extraordinary amount of effort to “go that extra mile”.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!!  But know that sometimes, it is harder than others.

  • http://twitter.com/marcbuxton Marc Buxton

  • http://twitter.com/marcbuxton Marc Buxton

    I have been implementing the idea of “focus” a lot in my work and ministry lately, and this post is right along that line. Zeroing in on something is how to get it done. Choose one thing and do it well, and people will remember you for it…

    • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

      Choosing one thing and doing it well gets at the idea of simplifying life. Too often, we have too many things we do with mediocrity. Doing fewer things and doing them well helps to simplify as well as focus life.

  • Aaa

    With that music my boiling temperature immediately drops to ICE temperature! What a horrible music! I never come back to your site. First Impression Last Impression

  • http://www.GiveMore.com/ Sam Parker

    Thanks for mentioning my book, Michael!

    Be two-twelve!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Sam. Great book!

      • http://www.GiveMore.com/ Sam Parker

        Hi, Michael. You mentioned my book (212) back in January. I thought you might enjoy our latest video about love (3-minutes on working and living together). It’s called Love Your People… http://vimeo.com/41103076.
        Please call or email anytime.

        Sam
        Sam@GiveMore.com
        804-306-1710

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