In 2008, “In The Heights” won a Grammy and four Tony Awards. At Radio City Music Hall, the entire cast and crew went up to receive the final Tony award presented: Best Musical. Two of them picked up the writer and star of the musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and put him on their shoulders. There was fist-pumping, waving, screaming, and smiles.
Forty-four seconds later, the lights shifted and everyone in the audience got up and started exiting. But “In The Heights” director Tommy Kail stopped on stage and stood there by himself.
Kail first saw the script for “In The Heights” in 2000. He met with Lin-Manuel Miranda in 2002. They got to work and “In The Heights” premiered off Broadway in 2005, then opened on Broadway in 2008.
Kail was 31 years old that night of the Tony’s and eight of those years were spent working on “In The Heights.” As everyone emptied out of Radio City Music Hall, they talked about what after-party they were attending and what they were going to eat and what they were working on next. Kail stood on stage alone and thought, “Well if this is a pinnacle, and it’s over in an instant, and people are already talking about what’s next, it can’t be about this. It has to be about something more than this.” ¹
We’ll come back to Kail. First, an example of a different director with a different result.
When Edgar Doctorow first adapted his 1971 novel, The Book of Daniel, into a screenplay, the director Sidney Lumet read it. “[I] thought it was one of the best screenplays I’d ever seen,” Lumet wrote.
Over a decade later, Lumet finally got a studio on board to make the movie. After casting and rehearsals, the first day of shooting arrived. Six cameras and five-thousand extras were on set. Before he got the cameras rolling, Lumet looked over at Doctorow. “He was weeping,” Lumet writes, “It had been a long wait.” Lumet goes on to describe the experience of working on Daniel with Doctorow—the late nights and early mornings, the arguing and the discussing and the asking and the doubting, the hours of shooting, the hours in the cutting room, the hours on the road doing publicity.
Daniel released on August 26, 1983. The reviews came in first—it was a critical failure. The numbers came in next—it was a box-office flop. “Despite its critical and financial failure,” Lumet wrote, “I think it’s one of the best pictures I’ve ever done.” On the experience of getting to know and work with Doctorow, “it was a first-rate collaboration.” ²
What Kail realized standing on stage that night at the Tony’s is what Doctorow knew: the outcome is a tiny percentage of the experience.
The “In The Heights” cast and crew stood on the Radio City Music Hall stage for forty-four seconds. That’s 0.000017% of the eight years Kail spent working on it. ³ To let 0.000017% of an experience determine one’s happiness or satisfaction with the work, Kail realized, is insane.
Yet this is what we do. The poker champion turned author Annie Duke calls it “resulting.” ⁴ Resulting is using the quality of an outcome to determine the quality of what precedes the outcome. It’s letting the Tony awards or the box office results have sway over your happiness or your satisfaction with the work you did. It’s letting the 0.000017% dictate if the other 99.999983% was good or worthwhile or fun or etc.
On the last run of closing day at Vail one winter, my friend broke his collarbone. It was our 152nd day of skiing that season. His would end with a ride on a ski patrol sled and then to the hospital for surgery. As I wheelchaired him to the car, I made a comment about how it doesn’t get much worse than breaking a bone on the last run of closing day. “Yea it does,” he said, “not having the season we just had.”
Despite the injury, it was a first-rate season.
Outcomes are an instant, only 0.000017% of the whole pie. Try not to get caught resulting. Treat yourself to the 99.999983%.
 Tommy Kail | Little Known Facts
 Making Movies by Sidney Lumet
 Thank you Connor Crump for help calculating percentages
Thank you to Joe Donohue and Katie McKenzie for reading drafts of this.