templeton-planIn the spirit of this time of year, when summer vacations wrap up with children and young adults heading back to school and working adults refocusing their energies on professional tasks, we wanted to share a very applicable piece of advice from John Templeton as highlighted in The Templeton Plan. Step 11, Giving the Extra Ounce, explains the payoff of giving a small amount of extra effort in everything you do. From the schoolyard to the investing world, that extra ounce can significantly increase your chances of success:

Even as a boy, John Templeton was an observer of people. He watched them in every phase of their lives, studied them, and questioned why they did certain things—and what impact those things had on their happiness and level of success. He was strongly impressed by the discovery that the moderately successful person did nearly as much work as the outstandingly successful one. The difference in effort was quite small—only an “extra ounce.” But the results, in terms of accomplishment and the quality of the achievement, were often dramatic.

Templeton called this principle the “doctrine of the extra ounce.” And he quickly noticed that the doctrine was confined not to just one field of endeavor but could be applied in all fields. In fact, it seemed to be a kind of universal principle that could lead to success in life.

For example, when it came to high school football games, Templeton discovered that the boys who tried a little harder and practiced a little more became the stars. They contributed the key plays that won games. They tended to be the ones who gained the support of the fans and were complimented by the coaches. And all because they did just a little bit more than their teammates.

Templeton also noticed that same doctrine of the extra ounce at work in his high school classrooms. Those who did their lessons reasonably well received good grades. But those who did their lessons a little bit better than anyone else—who exerted the “extra ounce”—received top grades and all the honors.

The same principle applied to his experiences at Yale. Templeton made sure that he had his lessons not just 95 percent right but 99 percent right. The result? He got into Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year and was elected president of the Yale chapter—an accomplishment that went a long way toward helping him be selected for a Rhodes scholarship.

Out in the business world, Templeton refined his doctrine of the extra ounce even further. He came to realize that giving that single extra ounce results in better quality. Those who try harder are capable of a higher level of performance. And the person who gives seventeen ounces to the pint rather than sixteen will achieve rewards all out of proportion to that one ounce.