Success is often reached through the little stuff. When Pat Riley coached the Los
Angeles Lakers from 1982 to 1990, the team won four NBA championships. In taking over the
New York Knicks in 1991, Riley inherited a team with a losing record. But the Knicks
seemed able to play above their abilities and even gave the eventual champions, the
Chicago Bulls, their hardest competition in the play-offs last May.
How does Riley do it? He says his talent lies in attention to detail. For example,
every NBA team studies videotapes and compiles statistics to evaluate players' game
performances. But Riley's use of these tools is more comprehensive than that of his
rivals. "We measure areas of performance that are often ignored: jumping in pursuit
of every rebound even if you don't get it, swatting at every pass, diving for loose balls,
letting someone smash into you in order to draw a foul."
After each game, these "effort" statistics are punched into a
computer. "Effort," Riley explains, "is what ultimately separates
journeyman players from impact players. Knowing how well a player executes all
these little things is the key to unlocking career-best
Robert McGarvey, "Little Things Do Mean a
Lot", Reader's Digest.
Russian composer, pianist, and conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff was once honored
at a dinner hosted by fellow pianist Arthur Rubinstein. During the course of the
evening, Rachmaninoff said he thought the Grieg piano concerto the greatest ever
written. When Rubinstein said he had just recorded it, Rachmaninoff insisted on
hearing it then and there. During coffee, Rubinstein put on the proofs of the
record and Rachmaninoff, closing his eyes, settled down to listen. He listened
right through without saying a word. At the end of the concerto he opened his
eyes and said, "Piano out of tune."
Today in the Word, December 15, 1992.
In the operating room of a large hospital, a young nurse was completing her
first full day of responsibilities. "You've only removed 11 sponges,
doctor," she said to the surgeon. "We used 12." "I removed
them all," the doctor declared. "We'll close the incision now."
"No," the nurse objected. "We used 12 sponges." "I'll
take full responsibility," the surgeon said grimly. "Suture!" "You can't do that!" blazed the nurse. "Think
of the patient." The surgeon smiled, lifted his foot, and showed the nurse
the 12th sponge. "You'll do," he said.
Today in the Word, April 7, 1992.
As Vice President, Richard Nixon came upon President Eisenhower one day
signing an immense stack of mail in his office. Mr. Nixon watched quietly for a
moment and then asked the General how, with all that mail, he ever found time to
think about the big problems of the country. Ike replied: "Dick, I really
haven't spent that much time on these letters. In fact, in some instances they
probably don't even say exactly what I want them to. But you've got to learn
that, if you get bogged down in all the fine print and little detail you'll
never get anything accomplished as President.
Bits & Pieces, April 30, 1992.