Every day you make a tiny bit of progress. You make one thing just a smidgen better.
There are thousands and tens of thousands of these tiny things.
It takes a mindset of constant criticism to find them. You have to reshape your mind until you’re finding fault with everything. Your significant others go nuts. Your family wants to kill you. When you’re walking to work and you see a driver do something stupid, it takes all your willpower to resist going up to the driver and explaining to him why he nearly killed that poor child in the wheelchair.
And as you fix more and more of these little details, as you polish and shape and shine and craft the little corners of your product, something magical happens. The inches add up to feet, the feet add up to yards, and the yards add up to miles. And you ship a truly great product. The kind of product that feels great, that works intuitively, that blows people away. The kind of product where that one-in-a-million user doing that one-in-a-million unusual thing finds that not only does it work, but it’s beautiful: even the janitor’s closets of your software have marble floors and solid core oak doors and polished mahogany wainscoting.
And that’s when you know it’s great software.
And while this focuses on software, the advice is applicable to anything that’s important to you.
(Hat tip to 37signals)