Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do. To be successful you need good timing AND you need to hit the ball on the right part of the bat – the sweet spot. If you hit the ball one inch outside the sweet spot you won’t make solid contact. “One inch” is the difference between a ground ball to the shortstop and a homerun over the left field fence. Baseball is a game of inches.
Life is also a game of inches. The other night my friend and I shared stories about how we met our wives. Both encounters occurred through a series of small and seemingly insignificant steps. One “step” in another direction and we never would have met the most important people in our lives.
The summer before my Junior year in High School I played in a baseball tournament instead of going on a family vacation. My mom wasn’t too happy about this but had I missed the tournament I never would have connected with the baseball coach from the Naval Academy. My life would have been completely different. That one decision (one inch) enabled me to capitalize on the years of hard work and perseverance leading up to that point.
The goals you set may be miles away from where you are now. Some may be so far away that you can’t even imagine how you will achieve them. But all of your goals ARE achievable if you approach the process as a game of inches.
You won’t achieve success by “swinging for the fences” or by searching for instant results. You achieve success by moving forward each day – another inch – until you reach your destination.
This is the “Margin of Excellence.” It’s the small difference that separates good from great, rich from poor, and success from failure. It’s how books are written, businesses are built, and games are won. Inch by inch… until the work is done.
And it’s the only way you can reach your true potential in life.
I recently came across an interesting story about Jerry Seinfeld. Early in his career he learned that the key to becoming a good comic was to first become a good writer. And the key to becoming a good writer was to write every day. So he posted a calendar on his wall and put an X over each day that he wrote something. He said, “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
Those X’s on Seinfeld’s Calendar are the “inches” that led to his ultimate success. And they will lead to yours as well.
I’d like to close with a clip from the movie “Any Given Sunday.” Enjoy!
Scott Mackes is a leader and founder of the blog Margin of Excellence. A U.S. Navy veteran and graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Scott’s mission is to help others lead remarkable journeys. Connect with Scott on facebook and twitter.