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Final One Degree

YUNA'S SEVEN MINUTE DRAMA by Yuna KimI’m a big fan of figure skating, and Yuna Kim is one of my favorite skaters right now. On my trip back from Thailand, I happened to have a layover in Seoul, so I went to the airport bookstore to pick up a copy of her memoir, Yuna’s Seven Minute Drama.

Most of the book is about her figure skating career, leading up to the Olympics, where she won the gold medal with two stunning performances. (The book was published in January, so it doesn’t actually talk about her Olympic experience.) But she also had a few thoughts on motivation, and out of those, “the final one degree” really stuck with me.

Yuna said that no matter what you’re trying to do, you eventually reach a point where you feel like, “Hey, this is enough”. It’s normally because you’ve been working very hard on something for a while, and you feel sick and tired of it and lose all motivation and enthusiasm. But this is when you really have to push forward.

The situation, she wrote, is like boiling water. If you’re trying to boil water, you have to make sure the temperature reaches 100 degrees Celsius. No matter how long and hard you’ve been working on it, if you stop before your water hits 100 degrees, it will never boil. You can have very hot water, of course. Maybe even 99-degree hot water, which is pretty damn hot. But it’s not boiling, and you won’t achieve your objective, not because you’re lazy or untalented, but merely because you stopped one degree short.

Writing is much the same. If you’re working on writing the 1st draft, but stop before you type “the end”, you don’t have a finished first draft. If you’re revising but stop before your story is completely polished from the first page to the last, you don’t have a revised project ready to send out to the world, even if you’ve spent months on revision.

It’s easy to lose focus and enthusiasm for a project after spending so much time and energy on it. But don’t stop when you’re at ninety-nine degrees. Go for that final degree. Recognize that it’s going to be the hardest and most grueling degree you’ll have to work on, but get through it. And celebrate your accomplishment when your own water is finally boiling.

10 comments to “Final One Degree”

  1. Jeannie Lin
    · May 3rd, 2010 at 9:16 pm · Link

    Lovely analogy! That one final degree makes a world of difference.

    An aside? Did you read the book in Korean? Pretty cool

  2. mamadivine
    · May 3rd, 2010 at 11:52 pm · Link

    I love the idea of the final degree. It’s a great reminder to keep pushing until the job/project is done.



  3. Nadia Lee
    · May 3rd, 2010 at 10:33 pm · Link

    Hi Jeannie,

    Yeah, I read it in Korean. :-)

  4. Renmiu
    · May 4th, 2010 at 6:49 am · Link

    Good motivation. usually people just give you at that interval in their life.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Amber Stults
    · May 5th, 2010 at 12:23 am · Link

    I like this analogy. Thanks for sharing it!

  6. Jaleta Clegg
    · May 5th, 2010 at 7:49 am · Link

    I need to post that link on my wall, along with the other motivators I’ve got, for those days that I just don’t think I can push any more. After all, it’s only one degree.

    The book sounds like an intriguing read. I’ll have to add it to my list. Thanks!

  7. Nadia Lee
    · May 5th, 2010 at 2:08 pm · Link

    Thanks, Kimberly, Renmiu/Dionne, Amber!

    Jaleta — unfortunately the book’s not translated into English. It’s available in Korean only, and I read the original Korean text. (I’m bilingual.) I hope a US or UK publisher translates it because it’s really a wonderful book.

  8. JM Lee
    · May 6th, 2010 at 11:53 pm · Link

    To make sure the temperature reaches 100 degrees..
    It may sound simple, but it’s not easy to do.
    that’s what made her the Olympic champ, I think.
    Thanks for sharing! :)

  9. Zoe Winters
    · June 22nd, 2010 at 1:56 pm · Link

    Great post! I knew there was a reason I liked you!

    • Nadia Lee
      · June 22nd, 2010 at 3:26 pm · Link

      Thanks! :)


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