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Sweat the small stuff – again

by Randall Craig on July 7, 2009

Filed in: Blog, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet,

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Why do some people have tremendous career success, and others don’t? It might be convenient to point to their superior intellect, drive, positive attitude, or just plain luck – none of which you feel you have. But often their success comes from a source far more mundane: they try harder.

Whatever their unique gifts, some people just try a “hair” more than others, and they do it over the long term. And these small differences add up. A great example comes from the financial world. Imagine two people had invested $20,000, one person at 4% interest, while the other person at 4.5%. At the end of the first year the difference is negligible – just $100. But over 40 years, the length of a typical career, the difference is an astounding $20,306 – even more than the original “investment”!

Small stuff makes a difference when we invest financially, when we try harder educationally, when we do our best at work, and when we try harder in our personal relationships. While the conventional wisdom is to not sweat the small stuff, differences are made at the margins and these differences add up over time.

This week’s action item: Aiming for consistently great performance is a far better bet than gambling your efforts on the big win. Look at your schedule this week, and identify at least one or two recurring activities where you have become complacent; these are the ones that could do with a little “sweating”. You might not see your impact immediately, but over the long run, others will.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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