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The 80% concept for progress

In Pursuit of Progress

One of our favorite mantras here at ACT Dental is “Progress, not perfection.” It’s a difficult concept to take to heart—especially for the Type-A personalities who so frequently find themselves in the dental profession—but we can’t emphasize enough how much it will free you from feeling overwhelmed every day.  We waste too much energy focusing on the details of a task instead of actually doing it, and it’s holding us back.  Dan Sullivan’s revolutionary approach to thinking about and acting on a project—the 80% Approach—aims to free us from the perfectionism and procrastination that keep us from making progress. How do we become productive? Just do 80%.

Perfectionism as Procrastination

When we think about the pursuit of perfection, we often don’t see it for what it truly is—another form of procrastination. What’s the difference between putting off a project because you don’t want to do the work and putting off a project because you want it to be perfect? Nothing. In both cases you accomplish nothing and make no progress.  Once you realize that perfectionism and procrastination are so closely related, it’s much easier to stop chasing after perfection.

Kirk has been blessed with many fantastic mentors, and they agree that it’s better to do your best than pursue something unattainable like perfection. Dr. Bill Lockard advised that perfectionism in the dental industry was “a deadly disease,” and excellence should instead be the goal, noting that on days when things were perfect, it was not his doing. Dr. Brian Gray tells us that while he loves perfectionism, most of the time  “Done is better than perfect.”  You can have the best plans and intentions for a project, but if you let that perfection force you into procrastination, they are meaningless. And beyond that, you’ve just wasted all that time for nothing. This is why Dan Sullivan’s 80% Approach is such an effective strategy for progress—it teaches you to focus on achieving 80% of a task and just getting something done.

Just Do 80%

The 80% Approach’s core concept is simple: get to 80% on a project as fast as possible. Don’t waste time trying to get it perfect right away; just sketch out that first 80% and hand it off to others for fine-tuning. It may not seem like much at the time, but if you get to 80%, hand it off to someone else, and they add 80% to it, you’re sitting at 96%! When you add others to the process, you make it more efficient—Kirk will be the first to admit that if he attempts to achieve perfection, he’ll only mess it up and slow things down. You have a great team—use them! Each additional person who contributes to the project adds fresh, good energy—energy that you’ve just saved yourself from wasting.

Identify which team members have unique abilities and use them to identify holes and find weaknesses in your 80%. The key to really taking things to another level is by determining which aspects of your business need help, and finding someone with a unique ability that corresponds to that area. If everyone contributes 80%, you will see bigger and bigger results—both as a team and an individual—and it will change your life. It’s important to remember that 80% does not mean mediocrity—there are absolutely situations where you need to give 100%, but the rest of the time you need to save your energy.

The more energy you can save by giving 80%, the more you will be able to focus on other areas, and the less overwhelmed you will be. Running a practice is a massive undertaking in responsibility, so you need to do everything you can to ease the burden on yourself. Stop letting the pursuit of perfection paralyze your practice—make progress today by reading Dan Sullivan’s The 80% Approach. To discuss how ACT Dental’s team of experts will help you make progress on becoming a more profitable and productive practice, reach out today! Our team has the knowledge and experience to push you past the paralysis of procrastination and into a Better Practice and a Better Life!


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