Think of the greatest you know in their fields. The highest performers that consistently succeed over and over again. From sports stars to business leaders to some of the greatest cultural leaders of all time.
How does 39-year-old, four-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Super Bowl MVP, and two-time NFL MVP winner, Tom Brady stay consistently at the top of the pack every single year? Or how does Ray Dailo, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest and most successful hedge fund in history producing an average return of almost 15% a year since 1991, continue to succeed where so many others fail? Think of Tony Robbins, at 56 years old, he continues to be more impactful and helpful to more people around the world every year. How does he keep it going?
These examples, along with other high performers, have learned a very important secret to maintaining success. It's called "Winning in the Margins." Winning in the margins is all about the little things. It's the tiniest details and focus on them that can create huge differences. Olympic races are won by hundredths of seconds. A simple misstep or break of form can lose you a race. The ability of an athlete to be essentially perfect in all phases of a race is critical to winning. That is why they practice every little thing down to the way they tie their shoes, because that is what it takes when you are talking 1/100 of a second.
If you study up on Tom Brady, you will find that he is obsessive about every aspect of his diet, training, and study of the game. He has multiple coaches and experts that work with him to fine tune his diets and workouts to maximize his physical capability. No little detail is overlooked or spared. It's the same with his study of his opponents and tendencies of the defenses he plays against. He knows them so well, many times, it's like he knows the defensive play that is being called against him before the defense does. He is the first one in and last to leave because that is what it takes.
Ray Dailo has created an incredible portfolio he calls the All Seasons Portfolio designed to provide a consistent return, winning more when the markets are up, but limiting losses in a large way when the markets are down. Ray knows that the biggest challenge is when you lose because you have to do twice as well as to get back to where you were before, so he has been obsessed with creating a way to keep that risk small. Additionally, he has created a company that has one of the most open and unique cultures in existence. Imagine being able to call out the CEO on their performance like this example and it being praised by the leadership and culture.
You don't see that type of raw, honest, and collaborative type of environment in many companies.
And of course, Tony Robbins does all sorts of things to win in the margins. From very specific morning routines, including a "cold plunge" to cryotherapy, and yes, a very specific diet with every detail painstakingly mapped out to allow him to thrive and continue to run at optimum levels for 14 hours a day. You can read any number of his books on he preps his mind, leverages everything around him to get more done and has trained himself and other to perform at the highest levels.
The point is that all of these people and those that you see that continuously perform at high levels have all figured out and are obsessed with the attention to detail on the little things. They know that even tiniest thing, a meal or how you say something, can make such a difference; so they study and drill and perfect - and then perfect some more. They never stop.
At this point, you might be thinking, "That's great for those guys. They have the money and everything to be able to do that. I don't have those resources." If you are, you are misleading yourself. There are so many ways to win in the margins.
Here's a sample of 10 ways you could win in the margins right now:
I'll leave you with this. There is a video, produced years ago, that crystallizes winning in the margins. It's called 212 - The Extra Degree. You may have seen it. Watch it below and see how infinitely small the margin of winning is...