When it comes to job performance, there’s really not much difference between an ordinary person and an extraordinary person. Consider the game of baseball. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers had the best batting average in the major leagues last season at around .350. That is, when he came to the plate, Cabrera got a hit 35% of the time. Jedd Gyorko of the San Diego Padres got a hit 25% of the time he batted in 2013. So, only 10% of the time Miguel Cabrera got a hit when Jedd Gyorko didn’t.

What may seem like a relatively small differential, however, makes big difference in terms of how much the two players are respected and valued. Cabrera is regarded as the best hitter in the world, whereas Gyorko is perceived as an ordinary batter by professional standards. In terms of compensation, Gyorko earned $490,000 last season, while Cabrera made $21,000,000!

What’s the difference between ordinary and extraordinary? Well, the word “extra” signifies something additional that’s outstanding and surpasses the usual expectations. For someone who aspires to be influential, the key is to figure out how make the relatively small, but hugely significant, jump from ordinary to extraordinary. Here’s what’s required to make the leap.

1. A Little Extra Effort.

The person on top of the mountain didn’t fall there! You have to get up to go up. Only those who dare to take risks and courageously take initiative can reach extraordinary heights. You also have to give up to go up. Mountain climbers who wish to scale the highest peaks must travel light. They have to set aside the nonessentials, packing only the gear that’s vitally important for their ascent.

2. A Little Extra Time.

Leaders develop daily, not in a day. Personal growth does not happen in a single moment, but takes place over a long, slow process. If you aspire to accomplish something great, then be prepared to devote great amounts of time to it.

3. A Little Extra Help.

If you see a turtle on top of a fencepost, then you know he had help getting there! Likewise, if you see an extraordinary leader, then you can be certain he or she received incredible support to make it to the top. Specifically, leaders need good opportunities and sound advice in order to succeed. Without these aids, a person’s potential is extremely limited.

4. A Little Extra Reality.

To be extraordinary, leaders can neither run from reality nor shut their eyes to it. They have to see their present situation as it actually is, and not only as they wish it would be. Realism provides the concrete foundation on which a leader must build their dreams.

5. A Little Extra Change.

Ordinary people change their circumstances to improve their lives instead of changing themselves to improve their circumstances. They change just enough to get away from their problems, but not enough to solve them. Extraordinary people, on the other hand, realize that to achieve better results, they have to continually improve themselves—upgrading their abilities and leadership skills.

6. A Little Extra Thinking.

As Earl Nightingale said, “You are and you become what you think about.” Your mind will give you returns based on what you have put into it. Lots of people try to make withdrawals, but they haven’t made deposits. They haven’t posed difficult questions, engaged in serious research, or devoted themselves to regular study. Then, when confronted with a problem, they have little to offer in the way of creative and original thinking.

7. A Little Extra Attitude.

Whereas motivation determines what you do and ability determines what you are capable of doing, attitude determines how well you do it. Whenever I see someone performing with excellence I know they have a great attitude.

8. A Little Extra Planning.

Ordinary performers have as their goal to do things right; extraordinary performers have as their goal to do the right things. Thinking through what’s truly important, and planning to invest your time and resources what matters most, allows you to be far more efficient and effective in leadership.

Thought to Consider

If ordinary people…
Gave a little extra effort
Spent a little extra time, 

Sought a little extra help,
Possessed a little extra realism,
Made a little extra change,
Exercised a little extra thinking,
Showed a little extra attitude, and
Did a little extra planning…
They would become extraordinary!

What aspects of your leadership could use a little extra attention?

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