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Overcoming Project Paralysis

In business and in life, we tend to overcomplicate what it takes to complete our next project. In reality, there’s only one requirement…to start. Few understand this principle better than Dan Sullivan at Strategic Coach. Dan’s 80% Approach is the simplest, clearest recipe we’ve seen for overcoming the two mental habits that stall far too many important projects and entrepreneurs, sometimes “for an entire lifetime.” These two insidious and all too common roadblocks are perfectionism and procrastination.  

We’ve compiled our key take-aways below from Dan’s book “The 80% Approach.” We highly recommend picking up a complimentary copy here. It’s a welcome addition to anyone’s personal library. 

  • For most projects, 80% is all it takes to successfully launch –  Although the perfectionist says “no way,” this habit is entirely an internal conversation with oneself. It has no basis in the value of the project as perceived by the outside world. In most instances, the audience will accept 80% as 100%. So, if all that’s needed is 80%, this “gives us permission to nip perfectionism in the bud.” 
  • Don’t Wait to Complete your first 80% –  This is all about incremental progress. Instead of looking at the whole and feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself: What is the next action step I can take today to move this project forward. One word, one call, or one email is sometimes all it takes. One small action is better than no action. Chances are, you’ll find yourself in a flow state and before you know it, you’ve written an entire page, or made five calls instead of one.
  • The Second 80% – This represents a further improvement to the original 80% effort, and is best handled by other talented people. When you compound two 80% efforts, the result is 96% completion. As Dan says “In a world filled with many sub-standard, shoddy, and unsatisfactory results, a 96%-quality project would look and actually be extraordinary.” 
  • Do Only the 80% that Only You Can Do – Owners, entrepreneurs, founders and project leaders should be firmly entrenched in their unique abilities, producing their 80% portion of the project from their unique abilities only, “where their personal efforts will produce the best and fastest results.”  
  • Community vs. Isolation – 80% vs. 100% – When each member of a team is striving for 80% rather than 100%, they’re inspired to rely on each other. This leads to a cohesive environment that fosters genuine teamwork, reliance on each other and community building. If everyone is focused on achieving 100% individually, they become isolated and full of doubt. 

Ultimately, when we give ourselves permission to strive for 80% using our highest and best talents only, we start faster, we gain confidence, and we learn to trust in others to exercise their unique talents to move the project forward. As Dan coins it “By riding the 80% wave of accelerating confidence, you make rapid progress, find it easy, and want to move even faster.” 

To pick-up a complimentary copy of Dan’s book: “The 80% Approach” visit:

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