There’s something wonderful about the number 100%, isn’t it?
Just hearing it calms the mind, soothes the soul, unclenches the jaw. It sounds comforting and reassuring, like few things in life do.
But in reality, underneath all that heart-softening goodness is a hard, logical, mathematical concept. And somewhere along the way we’ve confused this fact of the math world for the grand prize in the real world.
From satisfaction to security to the realness of cheese, we seek, chase and crave the 100% symbol in all its glory.
It’s the same standard we set for ourselves when we aspire to do better or differently, even when we don’t 100% admit it.
Anything less, say 99%, is just not good enough.
We wait to leap till we’re 100% ready.
We want 100% support from family and friends.
If it doesn’t succeed 100%, we consider it a failure.
Is second place that bad? (A better question: Is there even such a thing as first place in life?)
Regret, however, is worse, which is where we stand when when we don’t start in the first place.
Then there’s the inevitable stubbornness of all or nothing. In doing so, the joy of making 10% progress—a moment worthy of celebration, or a smile and a deep breath at the very least—never has the chance to come up for air. It drowns, unknown and unacknowledged.
And how about that 20%? It’s still a joke. I mean, can you even put that on Instagram with a full heart?
But even in the math world every 100% starts at the beginning. The zero we hate and hide precedes the one that follows. Single digits come before the double, and it’s still a ways after that.
Going from zero to a 100 in a few seconds is for machines, not our minds, no matter how much we want it to be. There are steps in between; good steps and bad steps and missteps and missed steps. And to make matters interesting, they’re hardly ever straight, predictable or even in one dimension.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t jump every now and then but probably not every time. But jumps can and do happen precisely because there’s no set formula or predictable sequence.
No matter what, there’s always a step or two you can take. Small ones, smart ones, uncertain ones.
And just knowing that calms the mind, soothes the soul, unclenches the jaw. It sounds comforting and reassuring, like few things in life do.
(Photo: Alan L)