Last week, I gave my More “Wow”, Please talk at Web Design World Boston. During the talk I mentioned a fantastic book: Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard. Yvon founded the expensive-but-awesome clothing company, Patagonia. I’ve long been a fan of Patagonia’s stuff, and their dedication as a company to environmental causes (they co-founded One Percent For The Planet, of which SimpleBits is a member) , and so when Josh Porter recommended the book a while back, I ordered immediately.
One part stood out in particular, when Chouinard talks about how he sees himself as an “80 percenter”:
I’ve always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession and degree of specialization that doesn’t appeal to me.
I didn’t know it before reading that quote, but I think I’m an 80 percenter as well. For people that love to create things, whether it be a website or a t-shirt or even a beer coaster (ahem) — the web seems to tie all these things together quite nicely. And it’s reaching 80% proficiency (but not 100%) that I think makes it possible to handle all of that at one time.
Ever try talking to (or working with) someone who is 100% obsessed with a single task? The danger is that they’ll get bogged down in details. Every detail. Whereas an 80 percenter might eventually learn to know which details to focus on. And determining which details are important can be just as useful as knowing them all.
At least that’s my interpretation. Regardless, I recommend the book highly.