The Surprising Difference between Ordinary and Extraordinary


“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” ~Jimmy Johnson

It’s not that people who do great things are heroically great people and the rest of us shmoes are the gray residue stuck at the bottom of the ordinary barrel.

It’s just that they are willing to go a few steps further than the rest of us, turning ordinary effort into extraordinary effort, ordinary resolve into extraordinary resolve and ordinary persistence into extraordinary persistence. This, of course, often produces extraordinary results.

Ten Percent

As a high school teacher, I see this all the time. Think about it: What’s the difference between an “A” student and a “B” student? The answer is ten percent. At most! The difference can be as small as a mere 1-2 percent. A few more completed homework assignments and a few more minutes studying for a test or two!

It’s the little extra the “A” students are willing to devote to their goals that differentiates them from “B” students. And “B” from “C” students, for that matter.

That Little “Extra”

It’s unsurprisingly the same with the rest of life. It’s the extra time with your kids, the notes to your spouse, a few extra details in your reports that makes the difference between okay and good, and between good and amazing.

Showing up a few minutes early is no big deal. But doing it consistently, day in and day out, matters. Bosses notice. They also note the attitude and work-ethic it suggests. Working harder than the next employee or entrepreneur may not make the headlines, but it may make a consistently better impression to customers.

Baby Steps

The difference between the successful and those who struggle to “make it” in any aspect of life is often just a few more steps taken consistently, over time. The difference is rarely monumental in scope and size, at least at the beginning. But over time, a few degrees more or less can make a continent of difference.

Add the detail. Take the extra steps. And fashion an extraordinary life.

Photo credit