Jan 31, 2014

The last 10%

'So then at forty-six years of age I came here to learn to live by clichés,' is what Day says to Charlotte Treat. . . . 'To turn my will and life over to the care of clichés. One day at a time. Easy does it. First things first. Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Ask for help. Thy will not mine be done. It works if you work it. Grow or go. Keep coming back.' --Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
In the startup world, there are a lot of clichés around the beginning of a project. Starting is half the battle. If you're not embarrassed by your first product, you've launched too late. First-mover advantage.

Encouraging people to get started is preaching to the choir. We live in a busy world; people start too many projects, not too few! (The current startup boom serves as evidence that people love to start.)

However, following through is tough! In endurance sports, clichés focus on the mental toughness required to finish strong. When I'm struggling the most during a run, I focus on my favorite sports cliché:

The last 10% takes as much toughness as the first 90%.
It's tedious to run the extra mile (or to proofread an essay or debug code), but perfecting the details shows pride in your work and empathy for your customers/users/readers/teammates.

I would rather perfect a few big projects than half-ass a bunch of smaller ones, and I think customers appreciate the same. Finishing strong during the last 10% is what makes great work stand out.


-Paige