No. 1272



In these modern times when millions of Americans are all wrapped up in sports, we hear a lot about “winning” and “losing.” But have you given much thought to the difference between the winners in life and the losers? Well, believe it or not, the difference is very little. In fact, it can be as little as 2 percent.
Some time ago I ran across a very timely article by Dr. Gene Emmet Clark titled “The Slight Edge - It Only Takes 2 Percent.” If you are striving to reach some goals that seem to be just beyond your reach, I believe this article will help you see that if you do just a little bit more, it could mean the difference between winning or losing, success or failure, mediocrity or greatness. The remarkable thing about the principle involved here, is that it’s true regardless of how well you are presently doing.
Dr. Clark makes a good case as he relates this principle to his own personal success. He begins by asking the question: “Have you been working like a horse?” Well, I’ve been thinking about that expression, and at least one horse I can name has earned a pretty fair hourly rate. Someone figured up that the race horse Nashua earned more than a million dollars in a total racing time that added up to less than one hour. Now I believe you will agree -- that’s pretty good pay!
Of course, we know that many long hours went into preparation for that winning hour of racing, but here’s something else that’s important to understand that makes this horse so valuable. You would probably pay a hundred times as much for a horse like Nashua as you would for just an ordinary race horse, but is this horse a hundred times faster? Of course not. What makes the difference is the fact that a horse of this caliber finished just ahead of the rest on a consistent basis. All he had to do is win by a “nose” a good share of the time to be worth a hundred times as much as an “also ran.”
Here is the reason I wanted to share this with you, and it’s the unmistakable point of Dr. Clark’s article. The principle we see illustrated here with Nashua the race horse is the same with human beings who are on top in the game of life. The difference between achievement and mediocrity is that extra 2 percent in study, application, interest, ambition and effort. It’s that one extra story for a writer, that one extra call for a salesperson, that one extra putt for a golfer, and it’s that extra hour of practice for the athlete who wants to compete in the Olympics. In short, it’s that little “extra” -- that 2 percent -- that often makes the difference.
When it comes to applying this principle to our own lives, the most important advice I could ever give you or anyone else is to use your common sense. The Bible says there is a time and a season for everything under heaven, and this is certainly true here. I want to make it perfectly clear that I never advocate having an all-consuming goal that drives an individual to work day and night at the expense of everything else in his or her life. The problem for most people is that they waste too much productive time. We should balance our activities in light of our current responsibilities, our age, our health and the commitments we have to God and our families.
As I’ve said before, we can never be defeated if we take the long-range view. We should view life over the long term and give that extra 2 percent all along the way. We should also take time off for a vacation on a regular basis. When we do that and keep our priorities in the right order, we can become a real “winner” in the game of life and still have good health to enjoy it.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)