I recently re-watched a YouTube video called “212 Degrees – The Extra Degree.” (You can watch it by clicking here.)It’s basically a motivational story set to some fairly intense music. It starts out with the words “At 211 degrees, water is hot.” Then it says, “At 212 degrees, it boils.” It goes on to say that with that boiling water, there is steam, and that steam can power a locomotive.
The whole point is that the difference between success and failure, winning and losing, and often even living and dying, is that one degree.
I’ve studied ultra-successful people my whole life. One thing that stands out is that they will do what others will not. They persist, even in tough times. They do not stop when things get difficult. And they look at every step they take as being one step closer to reaching their goals.
Most successes and most failures are not the result of one single thing. It may appear that way, which is why people often attribute huge successes to luck, and huge failures to bad luck. The reality is that success and failure are built, over time, on repeated positive or negative acts.
Many would look at the boiling water and give credit to that 212th degree. Logic would say that the 212th degree was what made that water boil. The truth is that every single degree preceding that 212th was equally responsible for the water going from hot to a boil.
On the flip side of that, failure and loss often appear to be sudden and unexplainable. I see it every day in my office. A person cannot stand or walk because of a pinched nerve. The pain is so severe and debilitating that they cannot sit, stand, or walk. They usually shake their head in disbelief, wondering how something so simple, such as picking up their purse, sneezing, or drying off their feet with a towel could cause such a catastrophic condition. In reality, it was numerous things that preceded the event. They forgot about moving furniture the two days prior, or spreading mulch in their yard three days earlier, or the slip they had on the ice earlier in the week. Most health problems appear to be sudden, and stem from trivial events, yet the event was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back.
What’s the takeaway? First, know that most results, good and bad, appear to be the result of one decision or one act. They usually aren’t. The biggest successes and failures often come after many good and bad moves.
Second, remember that you may be one move away from a catastrophic event or an unbelievable success. You will only get away with making poor, unhealthy, risky decisions for so long. Don’t wait for that last little act that results in something terrible before changing your behavior. In regards to success, you may be one little move away from getting what you want, from striking it rich, from meeting that special someone, from getting well.
Don’t be surprised by your good or bad outcomes. Things that just happen, rarely just happen. Every decision builds upon the one before. They push you in one direction or the other toward success or toward failure. You may not feel like it matters or that what you are doing is having an effect, but it has to.
That locomotive will not move without the steam. The steam will not occur without the water boiling. The water does not boil without the 212th degree. That makes the 212th degree very, very important. But it isn’t any more important than the 1st degree, the 32nd degree, or the 175th degree.
Stop making bad decisions… start making better decisions… and keep on doing that until you get the results you want in your life. The difference between catastrophic failure and ultra-success often is the result of that one simple degree.