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My wife Margaret and I are big history buffs. So, when the Berlin Wall was coming down in 1989, we talked about going to Germany to watch it fall in person. What an opportunity to see one of the greatest historical events of the twentieth century unfold right before our eyes!

It would have just taken a few days out of my calendar to experience a bit of history in the making, but we didn't do it. With a little extra effort, I could have made a memory with my family that I would have cherished for the rest of my life. Instead, all I have is regret that we didn't go.

If I took a survey, I'm sure most of you would be able to think of a time when you could have experienced something wonderful if you had only put forth a little extra effort. You'd probably also be able to recall a time when you could have excelled in some area if you had only tried a bit harder.

Perhaps your example would have to do with physical fitness, academics, your golf game, a personal relationship, or your career. Whatever the case, a little extra effort is all it would have taken for you to reach the next level of success.

I'm not trying to discourage you by reminding you of past regrets. Far from it. I'm hoping that reading this will prompt you to work a little smarter, listen a little better, push a little harder, or persevere a little longer when it comes to current and future projects, responsibilities, and relationships.

Is doing a little bit more really that important? Well, look at it this way. How do people at the top get there? Do they take an elevator? Does a helicopter drop them off at the peak? Of course not.

People at the top get there by going the extra mile, working the extra hours, and investing the extra time. They realize that nobody's going to come along and carry them to the pinnacle; they have to get there themselves through their own hard work.

The same is true for you. If you want to get to the top in any segment of life, a little extra effort is essential.

In his book, "Leadership When the Heat is On," Danny Cox advises leaders who want to achieve great things to ask themselves four questions:
  • What do I really want?
  • What will it cost?
  • Am I willing to pay the price?
  • When should I start paying the price?
"If you don't answer the last question and make a commitment to a start date, the first three questions don't really matter," Cox writes. "The best answer [to the last question], of course, is 'now.' Achievers choose what losers won't and pay the price that others don't."

In other words, achievers are willing to put forth a little extra effort in order to accomplish their goals.

What does it take to have a better marriage? A little extra effort. What does it take to be a better friend, team member, mentor or parent? A little extra effort. What does it take to become a better Pastor or leader? You guessed it-a little extra effort.

Don't wait until tomorrow to start putting forth that extra effort. Do it now, while you still can. I assure you—you won't regret it.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's
free monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired
available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

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