It’s the Fraction That Matters


Peter Vidmar was the captain of the gold medal winning US Men’s Olympic Gymnastics Team in 1984 in Los Angeles.  Peter earned one silver medal and two gold medals in gymnastics and scored a “Perfect 10” on the pommel horse as he led the team to their dramatic and stunning win against the favored People’s Republic of China. 

A few months ago, I got to spend a few hours talking with Peter Vidmar just after his return from Beijing where he had done television commentary on the Olympics.  I wanted to share some of his thoughts and insights on the mindset that yielded a “perfect 10” performance and how those may apply to your quality of life.  So here are some of his thoughts on how little things can mean a lot.

How often do you hear a parent, coach, or teacher, say, “You better study twice as hard if you’re going to get success?”  The sentiment makes sense, but the math doesn’t. Most of the time, no matter how much we might want to, we simply can’t double any significant effort. It’s not possible in the case of a world-class athlete. In my sport, any gymnast hoping to make the Olympics must work out at least five hours a day.  So if I’m going to double my training, I have to train 10 hours a day. Technically, that may be possible, but from a physical standpoint, it makes no sense. It would be exhausting to the point of being counterproductive.  So, the key to improving isn’t to work twice as hard, but just a fraction harder, or smarter, or longer. In the end, it’s the fraction that matters.  Increase the quality of your effort bit by bit.  Being the best is never really a matter of being twice as good as someone else.  It’s usually measured by fractions.  In the Olympic arena, you will find example after example. Connie Carpenter-Phinney won the women’s road racing gold medal in cycling in the 1984 Olympics after 50 miles of racing—by one inch. Gary Hall Jr. won the 50-meter freestyle at the 2004 Athens Games by 1/100th of a second.  In Track & Field, Justin Gatlin won the 100 meters in Athens to become the Fastest Man in the World. The fourth place finisher was just 4/100ths of a second behind!  No one wins by running twice as fast or jumping twice as far. They win by fractions—by portions of seconds undetected to the naked eye.

So where could just a fraction make a difference in your life? 


How to Keep from Getting Ripped Off

It seems that all you have to do is open the paper, log onto the internet or turn on the TV to see news of another financial thief (I started to say “rip-off artist,” but there is nothing artistic or even vaguely redeeming about that form of species).  The level of anger and frustration it evokes makes it difficult to even think about.

There are some very simple steps to safeguard your money.  This simple checklist is a great starting point:

Checkpoint #1)  Is the custodian a separate company from the advisor’s company?  The safe answer is “yes.”

Checkpoint #2)  Are all checks written to or funds transferred to the custodian instead of the advisor’s company?  The safe answer is “yes.”

Checkpoint #3)  Is the advisor registered?  The safe answer is “yes.”

Checkpoint #4)  With whom is the advisor registered?  The safe answer is with FINRA or the SEC.

Checkpoint #5)  Are the statements generated from the custodian and not from the advisor?  The safe answer is “yes.”

Checkpoint #6)  Is there a competent due diligence staff or team that is separate from the advisor?  The safe answer is “yes.”

Checkpoint #7)  Do investment returns or results sound too good to be true?  The safe answer is “no.”

If your answers are different from these, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong.  But it does mean that there are not the checks and balances in place to give you the highest level of protection for your money.

 Show Us Your Logo Wear

Pictured is Wade Huffman, M.D. in Sudan in 2008.  This was Dr. Huffman’s 6th trip to Africa.  He went with Safe Harbor International Reliefto encourage the local church, help the clinic, see patients and help build a new clinic.  Here is what he had to say about it:

“There are no roads or vehicles in the area. We obtained sand for the making of cement by bringing sand from the river bank by wheel barrow 1.5 miles away. The ‘well-to-do’ if they are fortunate, ride bicycles. Everybody else walks.” 

“The weather is hot. We were there from Oct. 6 – Nov. 11, at the end of the rainy season. The rain brings a little refreshing coolness, but rapidly becomes suffocating humidity when it stops. As dry season sets in, the days are cloudless with temperatures in the 110s. All heavy work must be done early in the morning, as by noon it is quite hot. After about 5pm it starts to cool off, and another hour or two of work can be done. The midday ‘siesta’ isn’t really a tradition, it is mandatory! This is a true frontier missions and development effort. The team in Nyimbuli has had wells drilled that represent the first clean water that the community has ever had. It is truly humbling and inspiring to work with the dedicated staff there.”