The measure between mediocrity and success is just a little bit. The person who does a little more, studies a little harder, and puts in a little extra effort can produce big accomplishments.

Sports are a great example. Take professional golf – where the winners make a lot of money. The people at the bottom of the money list usually don’t last long. The difference in being first and being at the bottom of the money winning list (other than millions of dollars) is that the winner has one more putt drop in the cup each round. Not much – just make one more putt each round. But it’s the difference in being first and at the bottom of the list.

Baseball is a good example. Someone has calculated that the person who wins the batting title in the major leagues only has one more base hit every ten times at bat than the player who bats 240 and struggles to stay on the team. In track the difference in first place and last place finishers in the 100 meter sprint is usually about one second. And how many more 3-pointers does the leading scorer of the NBA get in each half than the person who gets cut or traded because of low performance?

In Tennis one more point a game is often the difference in playing in the finals or going home early. There is such a small margin between being the best and being back in the pack – or out of the pack.

The Tour De France began in 1903. For 109 years no British cyclist had ever won. The English hired a new coach – Dave Brailsford in 2010. He had a plan. He was going to focus on improving in all the little things of preparation and execution. He said that England would be a contender within 5 years. He missed his prediction – the British won it in 3 years!

A sports writer, James Clear, studied Brailsford’s plan. Brailsford broke down everything you can think of that goes into riding a bike. He wanted to improve each of these little things by at least 1%. 1% isn’t much, but when you put all the little bits of 1% together, they add up to something big.

He focused on things like washing your hands properly in order to stay healthy because an unhealthy biker can’t win in a long event. He changed the whole approach to nutrition. He studied the weight and design of the tires. He determined the air pressure not by pounds but by ounces. He studied the most effective massage materials to help restore muscle strength at the end of each day. He even analyzed the pillows used and redesigned pillows that would help them sleep better. He improved each of these things by a little bit. Guess who won the Tour De France for the last 5 years?

The difference in being average and being exceptional is continually improving 1% in the areas that most people don’t even think about.

My friend Derric Johnson observed that a cloud is 96% water. A watermelon is 93% water. He noted that 3% is the difference in being a ground hugging watermelon or a high flying cloud.

My dad used to say, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” Look at the big things that came from a little rock in 1 Samuel 17:49; the two little fish that fed 5,000 people in Mathew 14, and a little faith of a Dad that led to his son’s healing in Mark 9:23-25.

Anybody can improve a little bit in a lot of areas – and a lot of “little bits” add up to a “big bit.”

Contributing Writer