Just two spots away.
That’s where she left her shopping cart. Instead of taking it all the way to the corral, she left it behind someone’s car. Just as she parked the cart and turned to return to her car, I drove by. She flashed a sheepish grin. I think she was embarrassed. I understood.
Apparently, she had started out to do the right thing and to do it right. But it was farther to the cart corral than she thought. My guess is that she was in a hurry. Maybe she was just tired. Whatever the reason, she took the easy way out, took a shortcut, and left her cart behind someone else’s car.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe not with a shopping cart, but aren’t you tempted to relax your standards just a little – to stop slightly short of what you really should do? “Just this once” we tell ourselves. “I’ll do it later,” we promise. And it always seems like such a small thing; what could it hurt?
What could it hurt? Well, probably you. Have you ever noticed what separates the words “ordinary” and “extraordinary”? Not hard to see, is it? What makes the difference is that little “extra.” Five letters separate ordinary from extraordinary - winning from losing, success from failure. When we stop short by a few extra steps, leave off that little extra effort, or forego that little extra preparation, we make ourselves ordinary.
There is a fascinating statement in the Bible’s book of wisdom: “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9). Many who would never dream of sabotage or terrorism subtly attack their schools, workplaces, society, or home just by being slack – withholding that little “extra.”
This book of wisdom is filled with admonitions to do extra, to work hard. “All hard work brings a profit,” it tells us (14:23), but “lazy hands make a man poor” (10:4). “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor” (12:24).
Surely, we prefer profit to poverty, ruling to being ruled. What makes the difference is not talent or intelligence or luck. It’s “extra” – doing what you should even when it’s difficult. It’s the discipline to run all the way through the finish line without letting up - to give that slight extra effort.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to stop just two spots away from extraordinary?