100 Percent


How many times has a customer or co-worker told you they're going to give something 110 percent? A 110 percent claim puts you in a vise.

Do we ever stop to think about what even 100 percent would look like?

Do you ever agree with anyone 100 percent?

Chances are, you're probably from 70-90 percent there most of the time. We reserve the last bit.

How about charity giving: 100 percent?

Charity donations or Church memberships tend to get to 10 percent as a ceiling. As for students and workers, self-made and self-employed tend to give more. For the rest, percentages vary, depending on upbringing, beliefs, etc.

Exercising, paying attention, being productive, learning, liking, listening, and so on. Which ones of these activities do you suppose you do 100 percent?

Are you ever 100 percent right… or wrong? Does it matter? How about 100 percent relaxed? Now does it matter?

The number 100 is intriguing. Its significance is often driven by context. We use it to keep score of a number of things. Does keeping score help?

We infrequently give 100 percent to anything. And that's fine. Life is a marathon, after all. Any successful long-distance athlete will tell you that it's as important to know when not to expend extraordinary effort as it is to do so when necessary.

So if you're promising a 110 percent effort, you either misunderstand the goal or your own abilities. And who wants to look frantic, anyway? Rather than bank on hyperbole, target a reasonable outcome. Deliver it.

The other party doesn't care how hard you work. What they want is results — 100 percent of the time.


[image courtesy of Wikipedia]

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0 responses to “100 Percent”

  1. I have never understood the concept of ‘110% effort’. If one’s fullest possible capacity is 100%, how is it possible to give more than one is fully capable of? I’m reminded of the film based on Tom Clancy’s “Hunt for Red October” in which a Russian submarine captain increases reactor output to 105%. How is it possible to create five percentage points more output than the machine is capable of?

  2. If I might offer a theory, Stephen, considering the propensity for nuclear fusion reactions to accelerate out of control, a la 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl, I think it might be possible to operate a nuclear reactor at greater than 100% output, given the exponential increase in risk of meltdown.
    To that end, people aren’t much different. Do we really ever realize 100% of our potential? I don’t think so. And if we’ve come to view 60-70% of our potential as 100%, “giving 110%” is more like giving 66-77%.
    Which smells a lot like how corporations market their marginally improved, short-term lifespan widgets these days…

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