Do you have a hundred plates spinning in the air?
Are you expecting them to come crashing down any minute?
Are you buckling under the weight of your responsibility?
Are you losing sleep while your mind races over all that remains undone?
Are you neglecting your family, friends and yourself?
Are you overwhelmed?
It was easy for me to make that list of questions. I just thought about how I’ve felt on my hardest days during the last 6 months.
At the beginning of this year, I took on a large project for a client. I knew going in that it would be a great challenge. I expected it to dominate my time and attention. I knew it would require me to bring my A-game. But I was excited by the challenge, and invigorated by the possibility of what a job well done would mean personally, professionally and for the sake of others.
I made a step by step plan, trying to predict every potential road block ahead. But I fooled myself into thinking that if I followed it and did my best, I’d arrive at the end of this project, unscathed. Needless to say, life happened, as it always does, and over time, there were dozens of obstacles and distractions I couldn’t have named beforehand. I had imagined reaching the end would feel something like crossing a finish line in victory, making my way to a podium and collecting a medal. It actually feels more like sliding into home, skinning my knee and limping back to the bench.
And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I put my heart into every piece of this project that I touched. I offered something that no one else in the world could offer it. My work is worthy of my name. I gave my best. But, there was a time when I almost didn’t care anymore – and that’s why I’m writing today. I learned something in this process that I’m not sure I’d truly known before.
The final 10% is designed to show you what you’re made of.
If you’re a smart and resourceful person, your existing ability is enough to get you through the first 90% of most things you do. It’s that final ten percent – the last little bit before you reach a big goal – where you’re really tested. You’ve come so far. You’ve given so much. The initial excitement has worn off. Your adrenaline is used up. You’re tired and nearing empty. You can see the end in sight. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, obstacles and distractions come at you from every side. You find that you’re not as close as you thought you were, and you begin to wonder if you’ve got enough left in you to finish well.
Welcome to the final 10%. This is where you find something in yourself that wasn’t there before. This is how you become the next and better version of yourself. This is when you grow.
Few people finish well when things get tougher than they expected. Out of fatigue or maybe even laziness, they grow complacent and lower the bar. They look for short cuts. They cut corners. And in the process, after having come so far and done so much hard work, they fall short of what they’re capable of and created for. They settle, and sacrifice the glory of bringing their whole selves to their goal or cause.
Let it never again be said of you and me.
If you’re tired – keep digging deep.
If you’re overwhelmed – do the next right thing.
If you’re tempted to lower the bar – don’t. Do what you said you’d do.
Better yet, do more than you said you’d do – and do it with a smile on your face.
Inspire others to dig deeper in themselves.
This is what you were made for.
After six months of some of the hardest work I’ve ever taken on, I’m on the other side. My goal really is in sight. I’m almost done and I’m beginning to taste the fruit of my labor. It’s sweeter than I’d imagined. It’s worth every single bit of the trouble and sacrifice. Having so recently stood where some of you stand today, I want to share with you what I needed to hear myself, most especially during my final ten percent.
You will make it.
You can do this.
It will be worth your effort and sacrifice.
Great things are ahead of you… for you, and for others because of you.
Don’t give up.
The final 10% will make or break you. Finish well. Go do what only you can do, and do it all the way.