Not long ago, my wife Nicki and I took time off to travel 250 miles from our home to witness first hand the 2017 solar eclipse. Our hometown was in line to see the eclipse at 99% but we wanted to experience the eclipse at a full 100%. Some of our friends assured us there couldn’t be that big of a difference between 99% and 100%. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
As we monitored the progress of the moon moving in front of the sun, it wasn’t that impressive; 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%. The outdoors at 99% looked like a partly cloudy day and that sliver of the sun still shining through was as bright as ever; impossible and dangerous to look at directly without your special glasses. If you were driving, you might not even consider turning on your headlights.
Within a couple of minutes however, 99% became 100% and the difference was like—well, like day and night. At 100%, the stars came out and we could even point out Venus. Crickets began chirping and bats flitted about. Every living thing not monitored by a watch, switched to night mode.
The best part was, according to NASA, it is safe to look at a 100% eclipse with the naked eye, which we did. It was awesome!
After two minutes the eclipse was back at 99%, then 98% and soon everything went back to normal.
On the way home, I thought a lot about the difference between a 99% eclipse and a 100% eclipse. Mathematically, it seems so small, yet the contrast between the two was astounding.
I thought about other instances where a small percentage or amount made a world of difference.
- Sharpshooters know that 1% off on your aim doesn’t just miss the bullseye; it misses the entire target.
- I also remembered as a teenager, listening to discussions of the Apollo Moon program on television; how missing a launch time by even a few seconds could jeopardize an entire mission.
- (NASA would eventually loose two space shuttles and their crews due to tiny yet fatal flaws.)
I have a brother in the puzzle business. His manufacturer in China, at the time, couldn’t understand how one missing piece in a 1000-piece puzzle was such a big deal. After all, 99.9% of the pieces were still there.
The power of many small moments
As drastic as these examples are, none compare to the damage that can occur in a person’s long life of good deeds and accomplishments by one moment of indiscretion. People will often marvel that these brief lapses of judgment or circumstances could be the undoing of such a promising career or the dissolution of familial ties and relationships. Some people question how people or any society could judge 5 minutes of error against 50 years of service. In my experience, if it were that simple, it would be a fair question: but you soon discover, upon further review and investigation, one brief moment is just the tip of the iceberg.
No defining moment exists in a vacuum. Whether to our salvation or destruction, they are the culmination of hundreds, perhaps thousands of seemingly inconsequential thoughts, desires, and actions. Each compromise of our values may be but a blip in time, hidden and private: making up only a tiny fraction of our schedule—yet laid end to end, week after week, they create the foundation of who we really are.
Live 168 vs. Live167
We named our foundation Live 168 because there are 168 hours in every week. We didn’t name our foundation Live 167 because we have observed that you can’t take off even an hour from your ideals and values without compromising the efficacy of the remaining hours in the week. If you lie to your best friend, how many truths do you have to tell to mend the broken trust?
Living 167 is a life of compromise, a rejection of the principle that every moment of your life makes a difference. Sooner or later you will find that your brief vacations from your values will end up defining you. Statistically, it won’t seem fair but that is how life is. A 99% eclipse will still blind you just as surely as staring at the sun at noonday. And 167 hours a week won’t give you the life you want.
In case you were wondering, Live 168 isn’t about perfection. It is however, about total commitment. Giving “110%” isn’t just for athletes.
Living 168 hours per week is about striving to live according to who you want to be. It is a way to live life to its fullest.
Top photo – Partial Eclipse at the top of Mount Borah, Idaho (Used by permission)