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Books that Inspire Me: #15 On the Frontiers of Management Apparent Failure in the Middle

This is the 15th in a series of posts in which I share thoughts on a book that has inspired me over the years. 

I think of this passage whenever I run into a brick wall. At the beginning of a project, everyone is enthusiastic and optimistic. Once you have crossed the finish line, it’s time to celebrate. It’s in that murky middle where there are few certainties and no guarantees that it can feel hopeless. 

In his book The Hard Think About Hard Things, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz wrote that he often asks CEOs to tell him the secrets of their success. The mediocre CEOs, he says, talk about their brilliant strategies, their amazing products, and their own inspired leadership. The great CEOs, by contrast, are remarkably consistent in saying this one thing: I didn’t quit.

Tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that right now there is some dimension of your life that is in that murky middle. 

Thomas Edison said that people would be appalled if they knew how close to success they were when they quit. 

If you’re tempted to throw in the towel, draw out a timeline of what you have already done and what you still must do before you can say mission accomplished. You just might find that Edison was talking about you when he said you are closer than you think.


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