The 90% Factor
I asked my wife, Leigh Ann, the other day if she had any thoughts about a summer vacation.
Instead of reeling off a list of exotic beaches, intriguing foreign cities or challenging tests of physical endurance, she gave me The Look.
Now, I have gotten The Look many times before, as I am sure you have, so I knew exactly the ton of bricks that was about to come crashing down on me.
“We are not going anywhere. We are going to stay home and finish all of the projects YOU have started.”
I love projects.
My motto is “Give me 10 minutes and I will start a 20-minute project.”
And I will get it 90% done.
It will work, it will function, it will look almost finished. But it won’t quite be.
For years I could never quite explain why it is that I have a problem taking a project through to completion, then, while reading a book on relationships (Yes, I know, but that’s a topic for another time.), it hit me – right between the eyes.
If there is one thing men crave from their partners more than love, it is their respect.
Respect for who we are, Respect for our abilities, Respect for the work we do, Respect for our projects.
And since men are, as a gender, inherently insecure, we need to be reassured — generally on a daily basis — of your Respect for what we do and how we do it, whether it is earning a living, painting the dining room or fixing the front door.
And so we do things to earn your Respect, but since we are insecure about everything we do, we take out an insurance policy.
The last 10%.
So long as a project is only 90% complete, we can fend off any criticism you might make with a bulletproof disclaimer, “Its not done yet.
As long as any project we start is not quite finished, we have an out, a safety net, an insurance policy designed to protect what we value the most: your Respect.
And so you ask, “How can we get men to finish that last 10%?”
As superficial as it sounds, the answer is easy: Praise.
Lots of it. We eat it up, we devour it like Robinson Crusoe at a cruise ship buffet. We thrive on it and, better yet, we blossom under it. Tell us how good it looks, gently slip in your suggestions to make it better, then tell us how fantastic it is going to look as soon as it’s done, how you can’t wait to see it, how excited you are about it.
And, if appropriate, carefully ask how you can help with that last 10%.
Once we know that you like what we have done so far, that you are not going to nag us to death about it, that you are willing to jump in and help finish it together, we are reinvigorated, refreshed, focused, energized and full of confidence.
Praise and Respect.
We’re just simple guys with simple needs.
Until next Monday,
Have a great week!
Next Week: I Start A New Project: Building a Pergola !