Edited excerpt from How To Be Successful: 6 New Shortcuts Backed By Research by Eric Barker:
“It’s easier to make something 10 times better than to make something 10% better” — Astro Teller, head of Google X.
When you try to make something 10% better, your brain is burdened with all the baggage that came before. You have no room to maneuver. When you say 10 times better, you have to reinvent the whole process. It makes you think big.
If you’re aiming for 10% improvement you are going to work within the conventional bounds of what normally happens in your product or industry. If you say that this has to be 10 times better, then it forces you to get down to the first principle of what is most essential. This is a way to force reinvention, which is really what innovation is.
Perhaps most importantly, when you think 10x instead of 10%, you behave differently. Research shows when you set bolder, more audacious goals you work harder than when you’re reasonable. Subconsciously, we actually push ourselves harder when we’re going after bigger, loftier, harder goals. Research shows people who set higher goals end up outperforming their peers or themselves because they push themselves harder or because they force themselves to find more creative, alternative, unconventional solutions to problems.