Monday, September 14, 2015

Minding the Millimeter

"Minding the millimeter" is a very important principle you must understand in many areas of life.  It's something you need to understand if you are dealing with diseases such as eye disease where your eye sight is in jeopardy (which I had experienced).  It is something you must understand if you are building a business, running a business, or fixing a sinking business.  You need to understand this principle if you are training in sports, especially professional sports.  It's also important to understand this if you are developing software or writing code.   Whatever outcome you are striving toward, you need to understand the importance of minding the millimeter.   

So, what exactly is minding the millimeter?  Minding the millimeter, to put it simply, is minding or attending to the seemingly minor things that do not seem to matter much.  However, the "minor" things add up to (or multiply into) major problems.  The other end is also true where, if you attend to the right "minor" things, they add up to the major accomplishment or outcome you are aiming for.

When people suffer from a loss (such as loss of eye sight from a disease, loss in business, loss in sports, or failure in school), often it may have been prevented if they did not neglect the millimeters, or the seemingly minor things.  (Or they could've had a better chance if they did not neglect the millimeters.)  Although neglecting the millimeter is usually not the sole cause of the problem, it is usually a contributing factor.  Again, I must reemphasize that minor things add up or multiply into major things.  Therefore, minding the millimeter is a crucial principle to put to practice in many areas of life, to prevent crises and to keep from disaster (or at least improve your chances).  

The importance of minding every millimeter is apparent in other areas such as in the sport of bike racing.  Mark Cavendish (professional cyclist and winner of many stages of major bike races such as the Tour de France and the Tour de Britain) is known to mind every small adjustment on his bike and in his training, down to the millimeter literally.  "Cavendish is well known for being completely obsessed with every detail in his preparation, paying close attention to everything from his wattage output to adjusting his saddle position a fraction of a millimeter,” as one online sports blog stated.  

Mark Cavendish is not alone as many past winners of the Tour de France also mind the millimeter adjustments.  Every millimeter and every gram on the bike counts.  Every second matters.  Athletes who perform at the highest level in other sports are also just as meticulous in the smallest adjustments.  In other sports such as running or swimming, a fraction of a second may mean the difference between a bronze medal and no medal at all.

Even one millimeter or one fraction of a second matters.  It can mean the difference between getting a medal and losing a medal.

Phil Jackson, the former basketball coach who has won ten NBA championships, taught his players this importance of not neglecting the small things.  He told them that a war is lost on a single nail of a ship.  Apparently, this was programmed into the mind of Michael Jordan (the most notable player coached by Jackson).  Michael Jordan won all six of his NBA championships under the leadership of Phil Jackson.

Even after Jordan retired from basketball and now running his own multi-million dollar company, he assures that the smallest details of the products with the Jordan brand are up to his standards.  Also, he applies this same principle of minding the millimeter to other business entities he owns.  Unbeknownst to many, Michael Jordan after retiring from basketball has now become just as successful in business as he was a basketball player.  As a matter of fact, Jordan's net worth has risen astronomically from when he had retired completely from the NBA.  While most retired professional athletes' net worth do not change much, Jordan's impressive business performance increased his net worth so much that he has become a billionaire recently.  ( He was a multimillionaire as an athlete, but became a billionaire as a business man. I do not know of any other professional athlete who became a billionnaire ten years after their retirement.)  Jordan's habit of minding the millimeter allowed him to produce intended results in basketball as well as in business.

Likewise, many of you are also great at your work in solving problems or in building something, and you understand exactly how the minor factors can synergistically add up (or multiply).  Others of you understand this for other areas in your life, and you are great with those areas of your life. 

However, those of you who understand how this principle applies to your work neglect this when it comes to another area, such as your health (or the medical problem you're dealing with) whether it is eye disease, a severe infection of an organ, or another disease.  You neglect this principle of minding the millimeter, and you erroneously think, "What does it matter?  It's only one small thing."

As a result, you suffer unnecessarily, or you lose.  For example, the eye patient who (after retinal detachment surgery) neglects one small thing such as adhering closely to the doctor's instructions of what position to lie down and for how long.  Or the patient not following the doctor's  exact instructions in how to take the post-surgery eye drops, how frequently to take them, and when to stop.  Another example would be the patient neglecting overall health and nutritional practices (like adequate intake of fruits and vegetables known to be good for overall health and health of the eyes) because he thinks such indirectly related factors or "minor" factors don't matter. 

When unexpected complications occur after the eye patient neglect a millimeter here and a millimeter there, they end up losing eyesight.  Neglecting small things may contribute to losing big.

Is it for certain that minding every significant millimeter would solve a problem or allow you to produce the desired outcome?  No, it's not a guarantee, but it significantly improves your chances if you mind the millimeter.  Nothing in life is a guarantee.  A professional athlete training for a championship is not guaranteed to win the gold medal, but it would be foolish for him to neglect the training and neglect the millimeter adjustments just because there's no guarantee.  Unfortunately, people have the foolish logic of not minding the millimeter just because there's no guarantee. 

As foolish as this is in sports, it's even more foolish to neglect this principle of minding the millimeter when it comes to dealing with your medical problem, especially when what's at stake is losing or keeping your eyesight, or when it's life or death.  

Another reason for this common fallacy (or error in thinking) is that one adjustment in itself or a small millimeter in itself does not solve the problem and therefore, why bother.  This logic is flawed.

In the cases of the professional cyclists, they mind the millimeter adjustments even though any one small adjustment by itself does not directly make an impact.  Again, all the small adjustments would add up or multiply, to make an impact indirectly or directly.

Maybe you are a computer programmer and you know that neglecting, or leaving out, a little part of the code can mean major problems, such as the whole application not working at all.  Leaving out a small part of the code in one place, neglecting another small part here, and adding a wrong part there - would all add up to disaster.  This is apparent if you are a good computer programmer or developer.  Therefore, you are mindful of any "small" part of the code.

Whatever it is you are facing or whatever it is you are building or striving for, you must mind the millimeter.  When you adjust for one millimeter here, another millimeter there, and one gram here, they will all contribute toward the outcome you want (whether it is to heal from a disease, to keep your eyesight, or to turn a profit for your business.)

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