It is widely accepted yet often forgotten that the difference between winning and losing, between first place and second place, between stardom and toil is most often small. Sometimes the difference is infinitely small. Water freezes at 32 degrees. At 33 degrees, it is simply water. At 212 degrees it boils. Again, at 211 degrees, it is water. One degree makes the difference.
From a fourteenth-century proverb, we are reminded, “For want of a nail . . . a kingdom was lost.” In sports, we watch as the winners of Olympic gold medals are decided in thousandths of a second. Baseball addicts are quick to point out that the difference between being a major-league player and languishing in obscurity is just one extra base hit out of every 20 times at bat. Many young people memorize the presidents of the United States, but how many can recite the campaign losers?
Just before they crown Miss Universe, they announce the first runner-up, a beautiful woman who most probably lost by a half point on a single judge’s scorecard. Yet she goes home to her country and takes her sash to the drycleaners for ultimate placement in an heirloom box.
As JoAnn and I searched for the keys to Clients First, we didn’t know whether there would be three keys, five rules, or seven commandments; we were searching for the concepts that were essential. As we tested virtues and attributes, methods and systems, we asked the question, “Is this essential to making clients first?” ...