Our colleague who manages our Butner plant shared the following with me. It speaks of the importance of 212 degrees.

Turning Up the Heat.

At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train. Applying just one extra degree of temperature to water means the difference between something that is simply very hot and something that generates enough force to power a large machine.

The message of this simple yet powerful metaphor should be clear to all: Seemingly small things can make tremendous differences.

The key learning is equally powerful: The application of additional heat (effort) to whatever task or activity you undertake will not only help you achieve the primary objective you seek, but also reap exponential rewards that are possible by applying one extra degree of effort.

Do the math and imagine the possibilities…

  • Make just one extra sales call per day and you’ll gain over 200 revenue-generating possibilities each year. What might that mean to you?
  • Eliminate just one-half hour of television watching each day and you’ll gain 182.5 hours each year to devote to your family and friends, your hobbies, or your self-development. How might that benefit you … and others?
  • Help just one additional coworker each week and within a year, dozens more people will have benefited from your knowledge and kindness.    What might that mean to them? What would that say about you?

The possibilities are endless! So let the number 212 serve as your constant reminder. Let it be your new way of thinking – your new way of acting. Write it down and leave it wherever it might serve you best – wherever you might need a prompt to extra action. Where can you give a little more effort? What small changes can you make that will add up over time? What can you do – what will you do – to enjoy the rewards that come from “turning up the heat” one extra degree? Find those opportunities and seize them!”

This message of just one more degree strikes a chord.

It reminds me not to quit too soon. I might be only one step or one degree from the point where big change occurs.

It reminds me of the power of small steps and small actions. Being mindful of your standards and numbers are critical to long-term success. Don’t be satisfied easily. Don’t become complacent. Strive to get a little better each day. Small things accumulate over time. It’s a fact. What small improvement should you be striving to accomplish?

Most of us strive to make things better in the new year. You want to lose 50 pounds? Do it one pound a week. Start small. Do it every day. Amazing things can happen.

P.S. After this note was complete, I watched Olympic champion Michael Phelps talk about his run to being the winningest swimmer in Olympic history in 2008 with eight gold medals.

He said he worked 365 days a year for five straight years. He said he knew that no other swimmer was doing it and it gave him a mental edge.

“Most swimmers work six days a week,” said Phelps. “If I swim seven days a week, that’s 52 days I gain on the next guy.”

That’s a good example of a small step, repeated for a long time, creating an edge.