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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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The Diligence Dividend

As I study high performers in every field of endeavor, I am constantly struck by the fact that these people may only perform slightly above average but achieve and are compensated many multiples above normal.

I have a friend with whom I have consulted regularly for five years. In a real estate market where the average realtor sells one house a month, my friend averages closing a little more than one house each day. He earns 30 times what the average realtor would earn.

As much as I respect him, I would have to say he is not 30 times better, but he does exhibit a trait that I believe makes his phenomenal success possible. My friend is diligent. Diligence is the habit of performing normal tasks in an extraordinary fashion.

I am a huge fan of baseball and, most particularly, the St. Louis Cardinals. Those of you who live in other parts of North America and around the world can no doubt substitute a player on your team throughout this analogy.

One of my favorite players exhibits diligence every day in the way he lives his life and in the way he plays baseball.

Even great baseball players fail to get on base more than they succeed. Most often, batters are a victim of an infield ground ball. These grounders are routinely and easily scooped-up by the opposing team, resulting in an easy out at first base.

My favorite player hits infield grounders just like everyone else in the Major Leagues; however, he runs to first base full speed with a 100% effort each time knowing that 99% of the time he will be thrown out.

He also knows that once a year, one of the opposing infielders will fail to cleanly pick up the ball and, due to his extra effort, he will be safe on first base instead of being the victim of a routine out.

If this only happens once a year, and once every five years it results in winning a game the team would have otherwise lost, in a 15 to 20 year career, winning four extra games throughout the two decades will, once in his career, result in the St. Louis Cardinals making the playoffs and winning the World Series when they otherwise would not have done so.

Diligence comes into play because no one knows which of these thousands of routine grounders is going to result in a trip to the World Series. A champion plays like a champion all the time. He never takes a day off or even an inning off.

As you go through your day today, look for ways to do the little things well, and you will find that the big things take care of themselves.

Today's the day!

[Source:, by Jim Stovall]

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