In 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. In this chapter, Templeton also warns people to not overstate your abilities:
Even the overachievers, though, must follow certain rules. First of all, when you promise a result, make sure it’s realistic and that you can deliver. Even better, give more than you promised. This is especially true in managing corporations that are involved in long-range planning. If you are constructing a building or an airplane, you are going to have a budget extending two or three years or even more into the future. A budget is a powerful kind of promise. If your work comes in ahead of schedule and below budget, you’ve exceeded your promise. Then, on top of that, if your work is of the highest quality because you gave the extra ounce, you are a prime candidate to move ahead in your company.
Always underestimate what you can accomplish; this is a key success tactic. There is a temptation among ambitious executives to overstate their abilities and what they can produce. Even in risk situations, they will say, “Don’t worry. I will have this done in such and such a time.”
If there is any doubt in your mind, refrain from grandiose promises. Present the case factually and your ability to handle it realistically. Then work as hard as humanly possible to better your promise.
If someone asks you what you can do for them that John Doe can’t do, give a careful and reasoned answer. Big words, brag words, can come back to haunt you. Don’t say you’ll produce 15 percent a year in your mutual funds. Say, instead, that you will do everything within your power to produce a superior result. If you then do more than promised, everyone is happy. But if you make exaggerated claims, you will create a group of discontented clients, and that can hurt your career.