By Charlie Dexter 

Don’t settle for average performance. Average has been referred to as the best of the worst and the worst of the best. Nobody pays for average. 

I mean seriously, how many times would we go on an average date, to an average restaurant, to be served by average wait staff, who seat you at an average table and feed you only average food — that gives you average gas? I haven’t seen many help wanted ads that say “average only need apply.” Nobody wants average and people won’t pay for average for very long. No, we want the best and many, many people will pay a premium to get the best the world has to offer. 

The difference in results between average performance and excellent performance is huge; therefore we think that the effort required to move from average to excellent in any endeavor must be Herculean. Wrong! Excellence doesn’t require a huge amount of additional effort. In our personal and professional lives — or in our organizations — the difference in effort required to achieve excellent results rather than average is measured in inches rather than miles and in moments rather than years. In fact, only one degree of additional effort makes all the difference in and for our lives. 

This week in my human relations course, I pleaded with my students to commit 15 minutes each night to reading a positive mental attitude book and then 15 minutes each morning to plan their day. The average students won’t take time to do even that, but the excellent students will. 

Do you know what percentage of a day is 15 minutes? Try 1%. One percent of additional directed effort for my students is the difference in this case between an A grade and a C grade. My experience shows that the A students will do that 1%  more. The average C students will find excuses not to. 

Mac Anderson, founder of the companies SimpleTruths.com and Successories.com, wrote the following inspiring words in a profound little online movie: 

“At 211 degrees water is hot. At 212 degrees water boils and with boiling water comes steam and steam can power a locomotive. Only one extra degree, but that one degree more makes all the difference. The one extra degree of effort in business and in life separates the average from the great. The average margin of victory in all major golf tournaments in the last 25 years combined was less than 3 strokes. The margin of victory in the Olympics for a gold medal and no medal at all is extremely small. In the 2004 Olympic men’s 800 meter race the margin of victory was 0.71 seconds. At the Indy 500 the average margin of victory for the past 10 years has only been 1.54 seconds … on average the winner took home $1,278,813 while the second place prize (1.54 seconds behind) took home $621,321, a difference of $657,492!” 

It’s your life. You are responsible for your results. It’s time to turn up the heat. To get what we’ve never had, we must do what we’ve never done. 

“212 degree ATTITUDE — the only thing that stands between a person and what they want in life is the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.

 “212 degree KINDNESS — one of the most beautiful compensations in life is that we can never help another without helping ourselves.

 “212 degree BELIEF — belief fuels enthusiasm and enthusiasm explodes into passion. It fires our souls and lifts our spirits.

 “212 degree FOCUS — having a simple clearly defined goal can capture the imagination and inspire passion. It can cut through the fog of life like a beacon in the night.

 “212 degree PERSERVERANCE — perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”

 View the above in movie at http://www.simpletruths.com, click on inspirational movies, and then on 212 degrees. Let’s set ourselves a target for in everything we do during the rest of 2019: It is 212 degrees.”

Charlie Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Community and Technical College. He can be reached at charlie.dexter@alaska.edu. This column is provided as a public service of the UAF Applied Business Department.