The 70% Solution: Just Do It

In the words of Renee Zellweger’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.

*******

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37 comments
Joel Adimathra
Joel Adimathra

I just turned 24, and in our community...you're supposed to be this hot shot making six figures at a certain age...but I never wanted that. I wanted something in my life that was more satisfying than living from a glorified paycheck. There was more to life than money.  I never wanted to waste my life doing a 9-5 job for the next 30-40 years of my life. I got a lot of ridicule, especially from my father...but I'm glad I found this site. It made me realize that there are other people who share my views on life. :D. Work hard now, so we can play for the rest of our lives...

 

Shane Rony
Shane Rony

That's great...what can I say!How did you read my mind :pOk, from now i'll just do it :) 

Avram R
Avram R

I think you may know me better than my family or best friends...  scary. I just discovered this site this morning through under30ceo.com and couldn't be happier to find a home.

 

I just quit a full time consulting gig paying a nice salary (while selling my creative soul for chalk board screeching consulting jargon and fake smiles) to pursue my own start-up that I've been doing nights and weekends on for the past year. I'm 25 and have risked everything on this and right at the cusp of tipping point, I'm second guessing, selling myself on another great (untested) idea, and have been soul searching asking myself why I am doing this... Thank you for a little bit of clarity Daniel, good to know I'm not the only half crazy entrepreneur out there!

 

Again, couldn't be happier to find a home.

Aarti Kumari
Aarti Kumari

Okay, So i just came here right from the subscription  link. Firstly, was very much impressed with your language of communication, it is so easy to relate to, and write to! (I am from the silent reader tribe)

 

I could totally relate to every word. i had this million-dollar idea (okay, not exactly "million-dollar" but you get the point), but have brushed such countless 'fantastic' idea. Have been so tired of this 9-5 job that I am already calling it quits, and have started to take the plunge. I have just laid the stone for this idea, and though it's being a hell of a ride, even before taking the first step (or rather should I say after taking the first step?). All the efforts, hard work and fear actually gives a kick, and the feeling is more than the "getting promotion" one.

 

 I guess I am stepping here at the right time, and would love to hear more. Keep up the good work!

marksworn1
marksworn1

I am so bad at cycling through ideas without so much as putting pen to paper before I shelf them... Definitely need to get my head down and get the idea out there...!

jeffbunch
jeffbunch

Now I'm in a butt kicking mood!

Lauren Holliday
Lauren Holliday

I have never heard/read anyone say this before. I thought I was the only one who did this. It's great to read that I am not the only one!

 

JamieZeller
JamieZeller

Great post.  I can really relate to the self-destructive cycle.  At the point now where any small problem that may cost money has me second guessing my ideas.  This post is definitely a kick in the ass in the right direction.  Feeling like getting back on the Horse today and actually accomplishing something.  Thanks!

 

seonvenville
seonvenville

Great post! So much of it rang true for me. I really like the idea of your 70% solution...and how you bring up it not being necessary to necessarily know everything before beginning.  And 'to accept a lower degree of perfection initially'.. I've recently got a blog up and running and feel I had to mentally embrace those two ideas just to 'get something out there'.  You can spend so long 'perfecting' and thinking you need to know everything (well, I can anyways!), and when it comes to actually produce/create something, you can (very easily) talk yourself out of it anyways! (pretty much what you're saying above). Thank you - great advice! Have just joined. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

Premise
Premise

Great article - exactly what people need to here to actually get started and not wait for the so called "perfect conditions" which doesn't actually exist.

queenjazzy
queenjazzy

Wow where have you been all of my life.  You hit the nail on the head, excellent push for motivation..Just Do It.   I have some work to do.  The article woke me up.

TiffyLea104
TiffyLea104

Daniel, This is a fantastic and accurate portrayal of what I've experienced time and again. Looking forward to discovering more gems and learning from the tribe. Thanks for your under30CEO post that brought me here. -TCS

dahlia_green
dahlia_green

Boom. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I have a serious bout of the: idea excitement, tell your friends, do the research, self-doubt, dapple in it, then convince yourself it isn't worth it because it won't be perfect...continue cycle...Too often it prevents me from executing. I really like what you say about "The only thing that every completed projected has in common is that somebody began it". It seems the hardest part really is often just starting! Thanks for the good advice and fuel to get going! 

SinoP
SinoP

Hi I'm so glad I read this. I'm going to start applying the 70% solution to everything I do immediately! I never get started because I'm always researching. My ideas die in the "research" stage all the time because by that time I'm convinced I don't have enough to get started. Then I put the ideas off for the time that I have every piece figured out (but that time never comes because a new idea comes up & I'm researching that!) It's like a continuous cycle of birthing an idea & killing it in research!

JessK
JessK

Great post! I love the 70% solution; as someone who just started up a web business I was always complaining to people that things were not perfect so I should leave them alone until they were. Eventually I just took the plunge and realized that things evolve as you work through them. I couldn't have made things perfect from the get-go because I didn't know what I needed. I'm so glad I found your site, it definitely resonates strongly with me since I'm only 23 and decided to take a completely different path from the rest of the world.

pavelpvrv
pavelpvrv

Hi, I liked your post a lot. I´m 38 and I sometimes feel like I´m wasting me time with no sense. I´ve been trying to set up several ideas but I haven´t completed a single one. I´m in the middle of a new project, but I wonder if I´m gonna finished it someday. Thanks for your post, it inspires me again.

moby7295
moby7295

Wow!!! This is so me!!! Tons of ideas that end up "going to a better place" love that I found this blog! I'll be referencing it a whole lot to other young people like me with ideas galore.

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @Avram R And we're happy to have you. BTW, got your email - Recess looks awesome, and I'm actually friends with Patrick Ambron. Will be getting in touch with you shortly ;)

 

DD

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @Aarti Kumari Glad to have you hear, Aarti. Welcome to the community!

 

Oh yeah, we have plenty of KICKS for you :)

 

DD

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @JamieZeller Hey Jamie!

 

Really glad that this was helpful for you. Find that horse. Get back on him (her?) NOW!

 

DD

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @seonvenville Awesome man! 

 

What's the address to your blog? Would love to take a read!

 

Thanks for the feedback too, by the way ;)

 

DD

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @Premise Precisely. There really are no perfect conditions - just the present conditions.

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @TiffyLea104 Hey Tiff - you rock, and thanks for contributing. It's surprising how so many of us go through the same crap...but don't talk about it, huh?

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @SinoP How many good ideas have died in the "research" phase...man, it's astounding how many great things we can dream up, then come up with excuses for not executing. Thanks for reading, my friend - and welcome to the community.

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @JessK Absolutely, Jess. You really have to learn by doing. You'll never be able to "think" something to perfection. And a project 70% perfect is MUCH better than the world's best idea that is never implemented.

 

Thanks for reading and sharing!

 

-DD

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @pavelpvrv Glad to have inspired, Pavel. Keep pushing. Better to just get the first vision out, even if it's not perfect.

 

Thanks for sharing!

 

-DD

Rich20Something
Rich20Something moderator

 @moby7295 Hi Moby! Thanks for reading and great to have you as part of the community!

seonvenville
seonvenville

 @Rich20Something  @seonvenville Oh sweet as (just thought..that's a typical NZer's response...if you were thinking ..huh?) :P Always big on feedback! ;)Address to my blog is http://ookshoo.com/ Really love what you're doing with your site - glad to have 'stumbled' across it this morning!