Jan 192012

I saw this post this morning from Michael Hyatt in which he talks about the tiny difference between hot water and boiling water – one degree. The premise is that that one little degree between 211° and 212° is small, so spend the little bit extra effort and be the winner.

This brought out the physicist in me. It takes one calorie of heat to raise one gram of water one degree. However, to take one gram of water from 212° to 212° steam, it requires 540 calories of additional heat to change the state from a liquid to a gas. The temperature is the same, but the power involved is staggering. It takes more than a little bit of effort to make the change from water to steam. Boiling water, or steam, has so much more power. Steam can power a locomotive where hot water can’t. Steam has 60% of the lifting power of helium and twice of hot air, but isn’t flammable. Hot water has no lifting power. Does this ruin the analogy that it takes only a little more effort to make the difference?

The average margin of victory for the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 is 1.5 seconds. Is the difference only a little extra effort? It appears to be on the surface, but the underlying preparation is the “540 calories” required to change the state from second to first place. How much does the pit crews have to practice to shave off 1.5 seconds from a tire change? Ever watch the elaborate dance of an Indy pit crew? They are as practiced as a Bolshoi Ballet. When Southwest Airlines wanted to learn how to turn planes around faster, they went to the pit crew to learn.

It requires effort and dedication to go from second place to first. Much more preparation, unseen and unheralded is necessary. It may be an tiny bit of difference at the tape, but preparation went into the effort. Last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Dan Wheldon may have won by 2.5 seconds, but that is only .023% difference of the entire race that took nearly 3 hours to complete. He had to be .023% better than the next guy over the space of three hours to win. That took a lot of effort and practice by a lot of people.

Now bring it home. Does it take just a tiny little bit of effort to succeed in a goal? Perhaps on a given day, but I think the difference is much larger than that. I am back on a strict diet again, trying to lose the last twenty-five pounds. Believe me, it takes more than a little effort to refuse Twizzlers, cookies and soda everyone tempts me with. I have to expend that extra little bit of effort every minute of every day to reach this goal. I know what I want, but that isn’t enough. I have to expend a tremendous amount of energy to keep myself disciplined. I have to decide several times each day if it is worth it. That isn’t easy.

Hats off to the winners out there. They have made the extra effort. They have added the extra 540 calories to turn water into steam. This is why Hyatt’s recommendations for achieving that little extra on a goal work:

  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.

By doing steps 2 and 3, we add the determination necessary to help make #4 work. If there is a goal that just seems unattainable, try those two steps to help with the dedication. It will add the extra 540 calories needed to take your 212° goal into a 212° success.