Why is it so hard to achieve success when you are closer to it?



It is relatively much easier to go from 0% to 60% than from 60% to 90%, even though the difference is just 30% in the later. This post is going to be about the last 5% of the things you want to achieve. If you are on a relentless pursuit of a goal or an idea or if you want to start a pursuit, continue reading.

The answer to the secret of success in your pursuit lies in the last 5% of your goal. As you keep getting closer to your goal, the tougher it will get.

I am not implying that getting to 90-95% is a piece of cake. It’s certainly not. All I am trying to tell here is that the efforts required to cover the last 5 % is often more than the efforts required to cover 0%-95%.

I call it the last 5% as “The Magic Box”. What’s magical about the last 5%?

It is the thin line between good and great. That’s where things are pushed beyond the defined limits. Its a fertile ground for innovations, inventions and discoveries to happen. This is the place where breakthroughs happen. A person who experiences the magic box, comes out of it as a completely different person irrespective of the results. It is not a true test of what a person is, it’s a powerful revelation of what one can be.

Yes, it sounds merry. But it can be brutal. After spending all the energy, time, efforts and other resources to reach 95%, it so happens that there is a long way to go to cover the last mile. Many of us don’t realise that we are just beginning the journey inside the magic box and it might take as much time, energy, efforts and other resources to see through it. The anticipation of tasting success sooner than what reality has for us is one major source of frustration, agony and sadness.

I am an entrepreneur, who is trying to develop an indigenous agricultural technology with a partner who is equally passionate about it and a wonderful team who believe in the significance of the work we do. After making the processes robust and when the operations were streamlined, my partner and I started spending considerable amount of time dreaming big about paving a path for our company that will change the way things work in the industry. And we calm ourselves down to face the brutal reality of today. We are not profitable and the financial viability of the technology was yet to be demonstrated. The best part is, after this conversation we look at each other and say “we are almost there”. We truly are almost there when we speak about how close we are to 100%, but it’s the magic box you know. It’s been quite sometime that we’ve been telling each other that we are almost there. But the significance of the problems that we solve in this phase is huge and the solutions to these problems are what is pushing the defined limits to next levels.

When do I know that I am in the magic box?

Good question! There is no proven method to know that you are in the magic box. There are subtle signs you can pay attention to.

  1. When you have established a set of processes that work for you quite robustly and use it to achieve your final goal.

  2. When you understand the dynamics and the variables of what you are trying to achieve. When you understand how each variable affect your chances of reaching the goal. For eg. Stamina is one of the variables that affect a marathon runner, a good tutor is one of the variables that affect a person trying to ace an exam, etc.

  3. When you achieve undesirable but consistent results.

  4. When you achieve desirable but inconsistent results.

  5. When you start changing your focus from macro to micro variables. Where you find even the smallest things that don’t let you achieve your goal and push yourself to fix it. These variables are minute but very significant to achieve greatness.

  6. When you stop creating and start fine tuning.

If I am in the magic box, does it mean I am going to succeed?

No, Being in the magic box doesn’t necessarily mean you will succeed. At this point, you actually will validate your goal. You would study even the smallest variables thoroughly and fine tune to the optimum level. And obviously there are variables that will be beyond your control that play a significant role in your success. Once you have exhausted the variables to fine tune and do all sorts of permutation and combination, you would have an answer. Either things would work out or it wouldn’t. This my friend, is an art of seeing through things. At this point, you would have done everything possible in your power to see through your idea or your goal. That’s the very edge of your goal. You can be satisfied that there wasn’t one more thing that you could have tried at that point. And that’s the magic, the last 5% will take everything you’ve got and demand so much more of your capabilities and when you go beyond yourself, you find a new person all together. You can use the new you to create and nurture bigger goals and aspirations. You will dare to think big and different.

How to handle the pressure, the frustration and refrain from giving up too early?

Brilliant question! We all handle stress, pressure and frustration differently. Vent it out the way you feel comfortable. Seek professional help if needed. I read a lot of books, listen to a lot of music, travel and sometimes seek professional help as well.

To stay focused and refrain from giving up too early, I love reminding myself about a concept that I read in this book called “Good to Great by Jim Collins”. Its called the Stockdale Paradox. There is a beautiful story to this concept which i highly recommend you to read it from the book #goodtogreat itself. The paradox simply says the following.

Retain the faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of difficulties. And At the Same Time; Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever it might be.

I have great respect for those people who go beyond themselves, get themselves hurt and bloodied during the pursuit of their dreams. Grand Salute. They inspire me in all ways and help me stay focused on my pursuit.

I appreciate you for taking time and reading this. I am very thankful. Please like the post and share it if you feel this post contains content of some value, If not, please bless me with your feedback. Thank you all!


Hey Arvind,
Thanks for that factoid, it reminded me of NRN’s comment about the first million versus the first billion.
Most of the startups here i would argue are in the 0-60% bracket.
What we need is mentorship to gain credibility in an already saturated IT services ecosystem.
Credible Entrepreneurship can grow only in an environment where we are trying to solve real problems, and not just looking to capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself.
So far , startups forum is uniquely positioned as one of the only forums in India that encourages open conversation about product ideas, (like a product Hunt for India) but having said that most entrepreneur’s still keep their cards very close to their chest.
This trend has begun to change , when you look at the energetic conversations in recent posts.
However this is still in a minority and the focus is to keep churning out original content for the benefit of other entrepreneurs, across the various pain points for startups like recruiting, networking, skill development, lead generation, cost effective ancillary service providers per startup city and such.


Thank you Ron for your words. I completely agree with you that, there is more to forum like this than to just capitalize on an opportunity. Starting up is a very complex mechanism. There is no formula which we can apply and succeed. It requires multiple perspectives and insights from as many people as possible so that an entrepreneur here can make his own recipe for his own success.


I think most of the people give up when they are very near to their goal. Some people get success fast for some it may take longer time so you should never ever give up.

Thanks for the post @Arvind_Narayanan.