In life, it is
the small stuff that allows you to win or lose
During my workshops I sometimes ask the audience, how many
of you have been bitten by an alligator?
I have never had anyone raise their hand.
I then ask how many of you have ever been bitten by a dog. Many hands go up.
Then I say, “You see, in life it is the small stuff that
gets to you”
It is, don’t you agree?
It’s having a business card that people find interesting and they will
keep. It is smiling when a client makes a purchase and saying thank you for
shopping in this store. It is taking the client to the exact spot the product
is instead of saying it is in aisle 6.
Yes, those little actions, those small advantages, the tiny
changes and corrections you do in your daily business life are the ones that
deliver humongous results.
And they are behaviors so easy to adopt and apply on a
Let me give you a recent example from the world of sports.
Two weekends ago, in Indianapolis, a rookie driver was
leading on the last lap of an 800 lap race.
His name is J.R. Hildebrand and had he won, he would have been the first
rookie driver to win the world’s greatest car race since the legendary, never
forgotten, Formula one driver, Graham Hill, won it in 1966. And even though
Graham Hill was a “rookie” at Indianapolis, at that particular point in his
career, he had already chalked up a few races, such as the Formula One
Championship and the fabulous Grand Prix of Monaco three times.
Hildebrand, the rookie in Indianapolis is practically a kid
having graduated in 2006 from Redwood High School in Larkspur California with
an A average by the way.
This young man had perfectly handled 799 of the 800 turns it
takes to finish the Indy 500 and then, on the last lap, disaster struck. In
reality, it was not a huge mistake, it was only a small miscalculation that
allowed his car to hit the wall with great force, and didn’t stop him at all,
it just slowed him down a bit, just a bit, and the momentum coming out of the
wall was carrying him toward the finish line, mind you, still in first place.
There were over 300,000 screaming fans on the stands, at
this time screaming louder than at any time during the race and I bet that
millions of fans watching it on television and on the internet from the comfort
of their homes, were screaming too. And, in front of everyone, the second place
car driven by Dan Weldon, barely swept past the kid and crossed the finish line
a breath ahead of him.
Let’s analyze this: five hundred miles of relentless racing
and the winner is determined by a second or two and one less mistake.
I have no doubt that J.R. will recover and will use this
experience as a learning experience and having gone through it so early in his
career, will give him an advantage in the future. You just can’t buy such a
valuable lesson, although a very painful one.
At the awards banquet, he was given a check for $1,064,895
as a reward for coming in second in the world’s greatest race. Not bad for a day’s work.
Then, the first place trophy and check was presented to Dan
Weldon who went to the podium and graciously thanked his family, his team, his
friends and his fans for the support that they have given him.
The check he accepted was for $2,567,255
What is the big lesson here?
The small mistake that H.R made on the last turn actually
cost him $1,502,360 in earnings, the difference between first and second place.
Some of you saw the last game between the Chicago Bulls and
the Miami Heat. With three minutes left in the game, Miami was losing by 12.
Everyone thought they were out of it; they were going to lose the game. And
then what happened?
They went on an 18 to 3 run and won the game and the Eastern
Championship and went on to the finals.
Out of 48 minutes, the last 3 made the difference between
winning and losing. Often the difference is one second or even a fraction of a
In the first game of the finals, the Miami Heat be the
Dallas Mavericks 92 to 84, they played as a team and trounced the
The second game, they had the game won with seven minutes
left, and what happened? The Miami Heat got cocky, they thought they had it
won. They gave the game away and lost 95 to 83.
Dallas simply never gave up. After
the game Chris Bush pronounced wise words: “ For a split second I played bad
defense” and Dallas wins by 2.
The third game will be played on Sunday, a day before this
article is published. No one can predict who will win but I can tell you this,
this third game will really define the character of both teams. Can Miami come
back after a demoralizing , stunning loss? Can Dallas do it again? We will see.
So there is a big money difference between first and second.
Does it mean that the winner is twice or three times as good as the runner up?
Of course not, he is only one little tiny bit better and
that one tiny little bit better is all he or she needs to make two, three, four
and sometimes more in winnings.
A company leading an industry is not two or three times
better than the ones in second, third or fourth place. They are a couple of
small details better, the ones that make the difference. One follow up call, one birthday card sent,
an extra thank you or smile, small stuff.
Winning and losing in life is determined by milliseconds, inches,
ounces, or one more smile and we must understand that you haven’t won until the
game ends and you have not lost until you give up. The Heat knew that in Chicago, the Dallas
Mavericks know it now.