Living the 80-20 Rule

Living the 80-20 Rule

For the past few weeks I’ve been living the 80-20 rule, up close and personal.

You know the 80-20 rule. 80% of the work can be done in 20% of the time, but the last 20% of the work can be a real witch to complete.

I’ve had several apps lately that I – in all honesty – slayed getting up for the most part, on time or early.

But oh that last 20%.

The part that differentiates the hobbyist from the professional. The part that allows my kids to eat and for the bank to hear from me once a month.

The part that really counts.

Strange how you can go for months and have very little friction in projects, and then hit a patch of time where everything – and I do mean everything – is an effort.

What to do during those rough patches?

Push through.

Because these rough patches are when real learning occurs. Those development lessons that stay with you so that when you see them again, you gingerly step over the land mines. Those development lessons that enable you to say to a customer “yeah, you could do that, but be warned that you will encounter a, b, and c.”

It is a trusim in writing that to be a better writer, one must constantly write. The same is doubly true in software development.

In sports, it’s analogous to practicing at the speed and intensity that you plan to play the actual game, so that your body remembers what it feels like to perform at speed, at top ability.

I read an interview over the weekend with Philip Seymour Hoffman (PSH) in the New York Times. PSH felt great acting was torturous. I understood exactly what he was saying. To be great, you can’t quit at the 80%. It’s the last 20% that is hell.

Anyone can be good. To be great, that last 20% of effort, where all the dues are paid, has to be pushed through.

This morning, I went to Einstein Bros Bagels for breakfast. When I got home, my order was correct as far as getting the right number of bagels and the right variety were concerned.

But all of the bagels were cut only to the halfway point. They may have well not sliced them at all.

Look – in the big scheme of big schemes, this was the smallest of deals.

But being half-assed in the last little detail of any transaction can ruin the entire experience.

The bagels were delicious. The carelessness of detail, however, will make me reconsider my choice of breakfast locales.

All because the last 20% of effort – hell, not even that – was tossed away.

Do what you do, the best you can, at speed, and completely.

Do that, and you will succeed.

Because most people bother only with the 80% and not with the 20%.

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