9 Lessons for Life, the 90% Rule, & More
Today at a Glance
- Question: Redefining success.
- Quote: Power vs. strength.
- Framework: The 90% Rule.
- Tweet: The Overview Effect.
- Article: Grow the puzzle around you.
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Question to redefine success:
How is your definition of success harming your life?
We live in a success-obsessed world. Everywhere you look, you're surrounded by articles, news stories, books, and content on "successful" people.
Heck, I often write about spending time with these "successful" people and don't think twice about it.
But what if that cultural map of success doesn't match the terrain of your own life? What if the assumption of what success looks like doesn't match your own definition of what it looks like? What if the one-size-fits-all definition of success is causing more harm than good?
When we blindly allow a cultural definition to become our own, we risk harming our own happiness and life.
On countless occasions, I've felt a sensation of unhappiness about my accomplishments, only to realize that the unhappiness was driven by my comparison against a "success" standard that was not my own.
How often have you experienced this? Be honest.
"Success" should always be defined on deeply personal terms. Your successful life is yours alone—no one has the right or power to define that for you.
So, this weekend, I'd encourage you to think about this:
What is your definition of success? Is it truly yours or are you allowing cultural definitions to bleed into it?
Reclaim control—measure your life on your terms.
Quote on the power from within:
"Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power." - Lao Tzu
All great things start from within.
Change yourself to change the world.
Framework to focus on the important stuff:
The 90% Rule
In Excellent Advice for Living, Kevin Kelly proposes something I like to call the 90% Rule:
"When you have 90% of a large project completed finishing the final details will take another 90%."
The idea here is that closing out that last 10% of any big project is actually a significantly larger undertaking than anyone anticipates. Many large projects are known for taking just as long to get through the final details as they did to get through the bulk of the actual work.
Marc Randolph, the co-founder of streaming giant Netflix, recently commented on his own adaptation of the 90% Rule on X:
The example he uses is around Netflix's early decision to not ship DVDs to Canada, writing, "we reasoned that even though it seemed like low-hanging fruit in terms of revenue, dealing with different currencies, languages, and other complications would serve as more of a distraction than a net positive."
Concluding the point, Randolph says, "You have to recognize that what looks like low hanging fruit rarely is...Freeing yourself up from worrying about all that lets you allocate more time and attention to the important stuff."
I'd distill these thoughts down to a single idea:
Good enough is often the optimal solution.
Ambitious, high-achieving people are more likely to get caught up in the perfection of that last 10% (which takes another 90% according to Kelly) than accept the good enough outcome and move on to the next important thing.
Training yourself to identify when perfection is getting in the way of your goals is a key skill to develop—in business as much as in life.
So, where are you allowing perfection to slow your progress?
Tweet to remember our place:
Article with beautiful advice for life:
Jessica Livingston was one of the co-founders of Y Combinator (she is also married to another one of my favorite writers, Paul Graham). This article blends great storytelling with great advice.
The nine key pieces of wisdom:
- There is no one mold for a successful founder
- Do what you’re genuinely interested in and try to play to your natural strengths.
- Don’t pay attention to the mainstream’s opinion of what you're doing—whether it’s your skills, your idea or whatever.
- Find a cofounder with complementary skills, but the same moral compass as you. (Sahil Note: This advice is also just as important for identifying your spouse/life partner).
- Focus on making something people want.
- Don’t let rejection distract you or hold you back.
- Start small so you can be nimble and open to change.
- It’s ok not to have gone to an elite college.
- Be intrepid.
Worth your time.