Avoiding Almost

He almost closed the deal.  She almost got that big promotion.  They almost won the championship.  Almost.

Near misses can be especially frustrating, since you did almost enough work to make it happen.  When a pro football team carries the ball 90 yards down the field, that progress was the sum of great strategy, precision, agility, and powerful execution.  But when they fumble on the two yard-line and fail to put points on the board, all that effort fell short of driving any results.  We live in a binary world, where almost is the often the same as nothing at all.

To make it to almost, you must have done a lot of things right.  When you almost won that $10 million contract, you had to have a great presentation, solid pricing, a quality product, and a professional team.  If you were incompetent, you’d never even get close to almost.  Getting to almost probably required focus, creativity, hard work, endless hours, sacrifice, and investment.

Almost is quite a wrenched state, since it required nearly as much effort as winning yet yielded zero results.  If you were going to miss the brass ring altogether, you could have made it home for dinner or had time to exercise.  With nearly all the work without a lick of payback, almost sucks.

So how do we avoid almost?  The best of the best build their plans to over-deliver against the goal to accommodate for the inevitable.  If hitting an annual sales target requires six sales people, the best leaders make sure to hire eight.  If one quits unexpectedly, the leader with contingency still makes the grade while the one who barely planned to win suffers though a bewildered state of almost.

If you’re fighting for something big, what are the steps you can take to ensure victory?  What moves will put you over the top and separate you from the competitive pack?  In these challenging times, photo-finish victories are won or lost in the margins.  The little extras, the over-delivers, the bursts of extraordinary.  If your game plan is built to deliver 30% past your target, your much more likely to avoid the almost and reach your goal.  The extra effort between winning and being an also-ran is minute compared to the exertion it took to barely miss.

When you’re pursuing life’s biggest goals, an extra dose of effort is often the difference maker.  If you have the energy to make it to almost, you can muster the resolve to break through it.  The next time someone tells you to pause since you’ve already done enough to win, put your shoulder into an extra burst of work and simply tell them… “almost.”