One Hundred Percent

This was in 1986. I was one of the 400,000+ students who had just finished writing the first major board exam. We all had to wait for a few weeks before the results were announced. When the results were finally announced, I was delighted to find that I came in at the 20th position for the state. I was studying in a town called Hassan and the last time someone had secured a rank at the state level was a few years ago. I had got good marks but it was not one hundred percent.

The same year on November 1 – there was a big event in Bangalore where all the top rank holders were felicitated by the chief minister of the State. I met the rest of the rank holders. I also had a chance to meet Arun Hiremath (later my classmate and my friend in Engineering) who had secured the first for the State. The point is even Arun had not secured one hundred percent marks.

[ if you are curious, here is a detailed account of my teenage years ]

Long story short – I secured state and University ranks in the next three board exams and met other rank holders from those exams. The point is none of these people had secured one hundred percent marks.

I have kept contact with many of these bright people and they are doing very well in their careers albeit not securing one hundred percent marks.

So, what’s the real point?

First, there is no one or nothing that’s perfect and you don’t need that as a pre-requisite to do very well.

Let me now switch the context to lifelong learning.

I meet people almost every week who have just completed one or the other training to improve themselves. The trainings range from improving their life skills (meditation, relationship skills, communication etc.) to improving their professional skills (public speaking, leadership, teamwork etc.) When they complete the training they are very enthusiastic about how this one training program will totally change who they are for good. A few weeks later, the charm wears off and a few months later they rarely remember anything from the course.

Of course, many of them have very intelligent explanations for why they stopped practicing things they learned.

One of the common excuses is that they find “something” in the course that they didn’t like. Examples include:

  • the teacher did not give a convincing answer on a couple of questions
  • there was “one” thing in the course on which they had a philosophical disagreement
  • they didn’t like that the teacher marketed the advanced course at the end of this course
  • they didn’t believe in a couple of concepts outlined in the course

I can go on but the underlying theme was that they were not satisfied “one hundred percent” with the course – so there was no point in continuing the course.

Just basing your actions on “one hundred percent” of anything is not a recipe for failure. It is a recipe for disaster.

The same people are pretty comfortable about they not executing their projects with a “one hundred percent” perfection but they expect others to perform at that level.

It is one rule for themselves and another rule for others.

Think about your own case. How many things have you dropped or stopped because they did not deliver “one hundred percent.” Which of those things can you restart today?

Something to think about.