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Beating the Odds

The Genius of Detail

We’re getting spoiled when it comes to missions to Mars. Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity have all done their part to soften the sting of earlier failures.

One of those failures, however, stung more than most; a sixth-grade mistake sank the mission.

“Everyone was amazed we didn’t catch it,” said NASA engineer Richard Cook.

With Albert Einstein’s birthday coming on March 14, Total Game Plan is offering a weeklong series on discovering the genius within you.

One form is genius is a respect, even reverence, for detail. Unfortunately, planners of the failed mission overlooked one detail.

“The ‘root cause’ of the loss of the spacecraft was the failed translation of English units into metric units,” said Arthur Stephenson, chairman of the Mars Climate Orbiter Mission Failure Investigation Board.

In other words, a $328 million probe failed because two teams were working with different information. It doesn’t get any more basic than that.

“To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail,” said fashion designer Giorgio Armani. His attention to detail has allowed Armani to amass a fortune of more than $8 billion.

“Little things make big things happen,” said coaching legend John Wooden, who famously began every season by teaching his players how to put on their socks correctly. Wooden reasoned that if the socks weren’t worn properly, the player would develop blisters and miss practice time.

“Make every detail perfect, and limit the number of details to perfect,” said Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter.

Whether it’s landing on Mars, designing clothes or founding a company, your attention to detail can make you look like a genius.

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Are you a teacher, boss or sports coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.


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