[Opinion] The Other 95%

The people who start a project and eventually have the ability to finish a project—whether it’s a project to build peace in their lives, their neighborhoods, their families or their organizations—are in the low numbers.

This is because starting is easy (we celebrate starting school, starting a new job, starting a marriage) and comes with great fanfare, but finishing is hard and comes with…somewhat less fanfare.

The numbers of people who start and then finish are staggeringly low:

95% of people never start anything. They are your traditional organizational followers, employees, managers and supervisors. They are useful for scaling the project, managing the tasks, keeping the project in a static place, and creating just enough friction to keep everything interesting.

5% of people are starters. They are the traditional entrepreneurs, founders, visionaries and they exist in all realms, from academia all the way to religion. They are the “ruckus makers,” the risk takers, the adventurers, the explorers and they are the ones that the 95% laud, but are also secretly envious of.

However, of the 5% who start a project, 99% of that 5% fail, and their definition of failure will vary along a continuum, extending from “The idea was too early” to “The idea was too late” and every gray area in between.

1% of the people who start a project, succeed to the end. Again, definitions of success will vary greatly along a wide continuum, but the people who built, explored, started and finished, have created the opportunities and spaces for the other 95% to succeed to their own level.

There’s a lot of talk about the gap between the “wealthiest 1%” and “the 99%” in America (and worldwide) these days. There’s a lot of concern that the gap will grow and millions of bytes of data are being created to cobble together arguments, theses, and proposals about what to do to “fix” this gap.

But the fact of the matter is, the gap that no one wants to address is the motivation gap—the gap that exists between the 95% who never start and the 5% who do. A gap in motivation, discipline, courage, acknowledgement, support, belief, discipline and drive.

And addressing the presence of that gap requires 100% of us to answer the question: “What motivates me to start, or not to start, the project I’ve been dreaming about?”

Only individuals can answer that question, person by person, quietly, deep in their own hearts.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
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