I once worked closely with a famous CEO, Chuck Knight from Emerson Electric (he retired about 10 years ago). Although Chuck was responsible for a huge global company, he had a unique and extreme ability (borderline obsession) to focus on “little things”. If there was a slight flaw in your logic, or numbers on a spreadsheet did not add up, he would latch onto it and use it to challenge your thought process and your core belief is what you were recommending.
He had no tolerance for illogical thought, and even less for lack of passion.
To Chuck, little things mattered because they indicated the quality of your thought process and your level of passion.
During one presentation at Emerson, I casually “rounded off” operating profit margins from 16.1% to 16%. A rookie mistake. Chuck called me on it, saying “we sell our grandchildren for a .1% around here son”. Still not sure if he was joking …
So, I learned that little things matter. Little things add up to big things. The long-term is just a series of short-terms. Your success right now dictates your long-term success (unless you plan on winning the lottery).
With that mindset, it is hard to be lazy and let things “slide by”. Pursuing excellence requires a focus and dedication to little things that matter.
Let’s apply this to teenage baseball players. You have all heard coaches say “do the little things right” – from baseball coaches, basketball coaches, football coaches. It is a great compliment for a baseball player if a coach says that “he does the little things right”. Success in baseball comes to people who do the little things right, whether that is blocking a ball in the dirt, throwing strike 1, hitting the cutoff man or taking the extra base.
All those little things add up to success. That is what pursuing excellence is all about. Paying attention, and excelling in all things – big and small.
Here are some more baseball examples of little things what will determine your success: the 3 check points of the wall drill on EVERY swing, proper head position on EVERY throw, perfect footwork on EVERY groundball, 4 seam grip on EVERY throw, etc…
In the Gamers program, we spend a lot of time working on these “little things”. Our program practices are scripted out to the minute. We are trying to teach you to pay attention to little things, to be aware of them, and to care about them.
What about little things like wearing your uniform and hat right, tucking in your shirt, having a nice clean haircut, and looking and carrying yourself like a baseball player? Little things like that say A LOT about you as a player, your team and your program. That’s why we care about them. Little things matter.
It’s true in school too – do you frequently miss easy questions on tests? You knew the answer, you understand the concept – but you just make a stupid little mistake and missed a question. If you received B+ or C+ on your report card, I can almost guarantee you that, if you had done more of the little things right, you could have raised your grade to an A or a B. A couple of missed questions on a test or a late or forgotten homework assignment are the difference between a B+ and A.
Little things matter – they make the difference. But, to recognize and take action on the little things, we need to be aware of them. We need to be aware of and observe the little things. And, we need to care about them.
Little things separate winners from losers – in baseball and in life.