The Fractional Difference Between Success and Failure

Robert Terson

I’m a huge baseball fan. My father, a lifelong White Sox fan, took me to my first game at the old Comiskey Park when I was four years old; that’s pushing 68 years ago. Today Nicki and I are Cubs’ supporters, have season tickets at Wrigley Field. Our older son, Michael, used to be the weekend public-address announcer for the Cubs, so we didn’t have much choice in the matter. I still root for the White Sox, too…when they’re not playing the Cubs.

Baseball can provide excellent lessons for life in general. In baseball, a single at bat or play in the field can determine the outcome of a game, which is why it’s called a “game of inches”; the outcome of just one game can windup determining whether a team gets into the playoffs or not, wins the pennant and goes on to the World Series.

In 1964 the New York Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox by a single game for the American League Pennant. I remember that one distinctly because it was so personally painful, but it’s only one example of a single-game margin of victory; it’s happened quite a number of times. There’s even been years when two teams were dead even at the end of the season and a playoff was necessary.

In 1951 the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers were tied at the end of the season and there was a three-game playoff. In game three, the rubber game, in the ninth inning, Bobby Thompson hit the most famous home run in baseball history, a three-run blast that was called the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” and the Giants won the pennant (but lost to the Yankees in the World Series). One flick of the bat—that’s all it took to take the Dodgers from celebration to despair.

Politics, too, gives us great examples of the fractional differences between success and failure. There’s Bush/Gore in Florida in 2000; who can ever forget that tight race, which had to be decided by the Supreme Court? Then there’s the 2012 contest for a City Council seat in Walton, Kentucky that wound up in a tie because Robert “Bobby” McDonald’s wife Katie forgot to vote. “If she had just been able to get in to vote, we wouldn’t be going through any of this,” McDonald said. “You never think it will come down to one vote, but I’m here to tell you that it does.”

Your success or failure can come down to minute fractional differences, too: an extra call made at the end of the day; an additional presentation made per week; a book read that changed your entire sales perspective, wound up giving you information you were in desperate need of; a day spent in the field observing the Top Banana in your company; an audio tape listed to while driving to your next appointment; and on and on I could go.

But you get the idea, though, right? Sales, too, is a game of inches, of fractional differences.

Minute Fractional differences that can/will affect your numbers!

Don’t ignore these minute fractional differences, pay attention to them. Actually, they’ll not only affect your numbers, they’ll change your entire career!


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