Sometimes, we fall just short of a goal. We make $950 from a product launch when we hoped to make $1,000. We run that mile in 6:05 when we wanted to run it under 6:00. Or we read 50 books instead of the 52 we hoped to read this year.
That’s what scientists would define as a “Near Win.” Our instinct says that we should get discouraged and lose motivation when this happens, but it turns out that’s not the case.
When we experience a near win, we actually experience continued motivation to seek out rewards, even in unrelated areas of our lives. This is especially true when we’re not in control of the outcome, like how someone responds to our work, or your relay team losing by a split second. Sure, you had an influence on the outcome, but at the end of the day, it was out of your control.
We don’t control most of the outcomes from the work we do. In fact, putting our best work into the world and doing what we can to make sure people know about it is the best we can do. The rest is largely a lottery.
Sometimes, our work will completely miss the mark, but sometimes, we’ll experience a near win. Now that you know what happens when you do, plan to use the resulting motivation to do more great work.
It might be the best way to respond.