The focus on the last thing

The play before time ran out. The last speech of the campaign. The typo on your resume or the spot on your tie. The final decision before the company declared bankruptcy.

We focus on the thing that happened just before the end. And that’s almost always an unimportant moment.

Things went wrong (or things went right) because of a long series of decisions and implementations. A misguided strategy, a bad hire, a brilliant insight about network effects–these are the acts with leverage, not the obvious thing that all the pundits would like to talk about.

When you get to the thing before the last thing, don’t sweat it. It’s almost certainly too late to make the outcome change. On the other hand, when you’re quietly discussing the thing before that before that before that before that, it might pay to bring more attention to it than the circumstances seem to demand. Because that’s the key moment.