Measuring Success – the perfect 10.0

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I was a young gymnast on the elite development track spending 30+ hours each week in the gym training.  This was back in the day of the perfect 10.0 and I distinctly remember watching early morning TV and seeing Lavinia Milosovici being awarded a perfect 10.0 in the final of the floor exercise at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.  Her passion and energy carried the crowd in her favour, and her performance was mind blowingly close to perfection.

I know all too well the countless hours spent working towards perfection, the extreme repetition for fractional gains to go from a 9.90 to a 9.95.  Despite having lived about 70% of my life in this context, I am not a perfectionist, in fact I suspect it is partly this experience that taught me the value of the 80:20 rule and beat into me the idea that perfection was a dream not a reality.

I am a firm believer in the concept of doing as much as needs doing to get the result you want, and no more.  More is wasted time and energy.  More is pointless.  In the world of gymnastics perfection was once the goal, because that was what was required to win but in most contexts, 70-80% will get you there.

Having both a clear picture and a measurable metric of success is what counts.  In gymnastics we knew the picture from watching others, and the metric was clear, it was perfection.  But the time and energy cost of that perfection was enormous.  So my challenge to you is if you know what the goal is, business , sporting or personal, what is your picture of success and what is your measurable metric?  Most of all when can you sit back and know that enough is enough and further improvement will come at too great a cost?

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