80% Is In Our Control

Bill Walsh, one of the most decorated NFL coaches of all time, is well known for his unique management style. I am currently reading a book on it right now! One immediate takeaway I have abstracted from it is this concise representation of something I have been thinking about for a while…He says something to the extent of: 80% of life is in your control. The other 20% is up to other factors such as luck and external constraints. This is roughly true across industries, professions, and scenarios you may find yourself in. The numbers are not important, what is important is the mentality.

And his claim, as the book develops, is that it is your role to maximize the likelihood that 80% turns out the way you want it to. You have no time to worry about the other 20%, all you can do is own what is in your wheelhouse and impact the factors you can control. Sleep well. Come to work prepared. Prepare for the unexpected. And work really hard.

That, among other things, is how you win the day. Those optimizing for luck or other wishy washy factors will have long days without much results. Professionals treat the 80% as the holy grail, and come to get the job done each and every day.

This mentality of agency, something I have written about and explored often, is where I am at in a lot of places in life. I am not worried about if or how but rather when. When is becoming closer and closer to now.


Originally published at Jordan Gonen.