99% Is a Bitch (and How I Lost Five Figures)

1% doesn’t seem like a big number, yet—as the 80/20 principle shows—makes a world of difference.

In his book The Success Principles, Jack Canfield states that 99% is a bitch; 100% is a breeze. You should pursue goals only with a 100%, no-exceptions commitment.

The quote made me think of when we make an important decision but aren’t 100% convinced of it.

Logically, that 1% of uncertainty shouldn’t deter you from making it. But the less-than-logical 80/20 principle states that the 1% may change everything.

Several months ago I started building a new business. I had some doubts but pushed them aside, excited by the new life direction I planned to pursue.

I didn’t give myself much time to contemplate such a big decision. Soon, business struggles and personal issues magnified my doubts. The 1% overpowered the 99%. Overwhelmed and overstressed, I had to make a difficult decision to call it quits.

The 99% turned out to be a nasty bitch for me, costing me low five figures and a few months of my life.

It’s often hard to tell the difference between 100% and 99% commitment. What helps is delaying your decision (unless that decision pertains to your health or another emergency).

If you’re still on the fence after a delay, abandon the idea.

If you’re still fired up and can’t wait to start, go for it.

The 80/20 principle advises inaction over reckless action. Warren Buffett serves as a great example of acting only when he’s 100% certain. As his legendary quote goes, “lethargy bordering on sloth remains the cornerstone of our investment style.”

We could all embrace his philosophy in our lives. Act only when 100% committed. It most certainly works great for Buffett.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Sign up for the newsletter​

Get access to exclusive subscriber-only resources (80/20 Decision Making and a 5-day welcome series on the fundamentals of the 80/20 principle). You’ll also receive new blog posts via email.

Read Also:

80/20 Marketing Is Like Herding Cattle

In his book The Practice, Seth Godin writes:

How is it possible for three cowboys to herd a thousand cattle?

Easy. They don’t.

They herd ten cattle, and those cattle influence fifty cattle and those cattle influence the rest.

When creating a marketing strategy for a new project, it’s easy to forget about this simple fact. We overcomplicate things so much we end up wasting time on busywork.

Read More »

Is Your Environment Simple?

What if you could strengthen your 80/20 thinking muscle by de-cluttering your physical environment?

In Pre-Suasion, Robert Cialdini shares a story of writing his first book, Influence. He worked in two different environments. The first one was his campus office with a view over academic institutes. In the second environment, his home office, he had a view over town and people going about their business.

Read More »

Are You Addicted to Your Inefficiencies?

We all have blind spots that make it difficult to practice 80/20 thinking. One source of these overlooked inefficiencies are emotional biases.

For example, status quo bias makes us prefer the current state of affairs. We perceive any change, even if meant to improve the situation, as a potential loss. This makes us reluctant to adjust the choices that might not be optimal anymore.

Read More »