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The 70% Solution: Just Do it!

| December 15, 2012 | 13 Comments

In the words of Renee Zelweger’s character in Jerry McGuire, the geniuses at Nike’s marketing department “had me at hello.”

What other company on the planet besides Nike has been able to create an iconic brand around 3 words?

Just Do It.

It’s so simple, yet the concept of just doing something sheds light on the fact that in many cases, we just aren’t doing anything. Or we aren’t doing enough of anything significant.

I want you to think about your history of getting things done. That chill running down your back right now is called a cringe. It’s ok, embrace it. We’re going to get through this together.

How many great ideas have you had that you just knew were going to make you the next Zuckerberg? If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably had hundreds. Ideas won’t leave the creative soul alone. It’s a 24/7 job just fending them off. Maybe the really powerful ideas got you so fired up that you even started talking to your friends about them. You wanted to get some validation from others that your idea was as genius as you knew it was.

Maybe you even called your mom. You were that excited.

Then, like clockwork, the inevitable happens. Something in your brain goes off. It starts off small. You feel the tiniest tinge of doubt. It’s almost an imperceptible sensation. You realize how hard this is actually going to be. You start thinking about all the pieces of this giant puzzle that you haven’t the slightest clue how to procure.

Instant overwhelm.

However, rather than acknowledging the doubt (or dare I say fear) for what it is, you find a way to wiggle your way out of your own plans.

How do you finagle your way out?

If you’re a master-avoider like me, you probably mask the deceit by coming up with another world-class idea. You declare the original idea to be fundamentally flawed in some way and you are actually thankful to yourself for not wasting anymore of your precious, productive time on an idea that was obviously doomed from the start. If friends or family ask about the old idea (they have no idea that you’ve moved on days ago), you treat it like a dead pet.

“That idea isn’t with us anymore. It’s gone to a better place.”

This is all face-saving at it’s finest. You don’t really feel good about giving up on your own ambitions, but you feel like you have no choice. You’ve run all the statistical models in that big genius brain of yours and you’re quite convinced the plan would never work. It’s just science. So you jump on to the next idea with hopes that you will find a magical idea that is as great as the first one, but also easy to implement. And you make sure to let your friends know when you’ve found the new idea. That way you don’t look like a loser. The human brain is a scary place, isn’t it?

Trust me when I say that this cycle of coming up with an idea, sabotaging yourself, and moving on quickly can continue for a long time. It can continue forever.

So what’s the solution to this self-destructive cycle that’s leaving all of our ambitions half-baked? How do we get to that true Nike state of mind and just do it for once?

I call it the 70% Solution. It’s actually pretty simple.

The core idea behind the 70% solution is that you should always trade perfection for completion when you are in the beginning stages of developing your idea. It is better to have work that you are only 70% percent satisfied with as long as you are committed to putting 100% of it out there, regardless of how you feel. The notion that you have to actually understand everything you are doing or even do it well before you can begin is inaccurate. The only thing that every completed projected has in common is that somebody began it.

This means that you are going to make a ton of mistakes. There will be moments of face-palm. There will be a ton of frustration. But no matter what, your work will be out there. If you want to start a website, but have no idea what to do with a computer besides turn it on, that’s perfectly fine. Just search on YouTube long enough until you can figure out how to put a blank page up that says “coming soon.” Congratulations, your website is now up. If you want to start a blog, but you’re concerned that nobody will read it, stop worrying. Just write it. Do the work.

What most of us with the entrepreneurial spirit don’t realize is that we will never be satisfied. Our greatest efforts will usually never be enough in our eyes and even when we do accomplish something, we will immediately be looking for the next rush of excitement in another endeavor.

With that in mind, we are free to act without the fear of failure. We can accept a lower degree of perfection initially because we know that even if what we do is not up to par in the beginning, our OCD will probably have us working day and night to perfect it later.

So go forth. Make your priority completion. Do whatever it takes just to finish. Put yourself out there and adjust what you’ve done once you get some feedback. When you see the progress you’ve made, you’ll be happy that you did.

Daniel DiPiazza is an author, coach and life-enthusiast. He is the creator of Rich20Something and his blog at DanielDiPiazza.com, where he teaches twenty-somethings how become self-employed, create wealth and live better lives by turning their knowledge and experiences into information products. You can contact him directly at Daniel@Rich20Something.com

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://twitter.com/Ben_Deda Ben Deda

    Nice piece Daniel with some good points. You may want to note that the 70% solution isn’t your idea. The 70% solution has been part of Marine Corps officer training for years and has been written about in the past.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.dipiazza Daniel Colossus DiPiazza

    Hey Ben! Thanks for the comment! Are you serious? I actually did not know that. Well, if the Marines are doing it, it must be a pretty solid idea. :)

    Maybe it was one of those things that I heard and stored subconsciously. Hmmm…

  • http://twitter.com/Ben_Deda Ben Deda

    Daniel, no worries. Have had that happen to me too. Here’s a similar blog post http://www.fullcontact.com/2012/09/20/when-a-c-beats-an-a/ and an Ignite talk on the subject http://youtu.be/pK1G56Cqfpc. Definitely check out anything by Col Boyd and the OODA loop

  • csabour

    What about pursuing a bad business idea? Like a service that no one will actually take out their credit card and pay for? In my opinion theres nothing wrong with cutting and running if the idea has no validation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.dipiazza Daniel Colossus DiPiazza

    Yeah, there’s definitely value in knowing when to quit. But more often than not, you know in your gut when an idea is bad, or when you have a good idea that you’re just running away from because it’s too hard. Wouldn’t you agree?

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.dipiazza Daniel Colossus DiPiazza

    Thanks, Ben!

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  • csabour

    Let me give you an example
    My housemate (fresh out of masters with no job offer) is starting some kind of biz and he’s so committed to it that before he’s made 1 customer happy he is already incorporating and making all the big moves. It’s like he’s driven by “just do it” instead of “use your brain”.
    Haha but as a side note I understand your post and I’ve been guilty of throwing in the towel too early!

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.dipiazza Daniel Colossus DiPiazza

    Napoleon Hill said something to the effect of “success usually comes immediately after the point when 99% of people give up”. Some institutions are set up as gatekeepers/weed out benchmarks. Look at organic chem in college. Most people quit. Makes it really easy to determine who will become a physician and who you’ll see at Micky D’s. ;)

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