Maybe it is because we are closing in on the starts of school and football seasons, but for some reason, cliches have been running rampant through media – print, electronic, and social. The most noticeable of those are the ones that young athletes exhort to proclaim how hard they are working. "I'm giving it all out there. Everyday I give 110%, 150%, 1000%!" A local sportswriter even took to social media to call for an end to exaggerated cliches and “cap things at 100%.” He wasn’t wrong. He wasn’t completed right either, but certainly, he wasn’t wrong.
Baseball Manager and 1989 MLB National League Manager of the Year Don Zimmer famously said, “What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle, and giving 110% all of the time.” But on the other hand, UCLA and Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden said, “Give me 100 percent. You can't make up for a poor effort today by giving 110 percent tomorrow. You don't have 110 percent. You only have 100 percent, and that's what I want from you right now.” With apologies to Mr. Zimmer, no extra hustle and desire won’t make up for a lack of talent. To stay on his field of play, if a batter cannot hit the ball 100 times out of 100, no amount of desire can allow him to hit it 110 times out of 100. But therein lies the rub as one might say, for even Coach Wooden would admit that although by the numbers it is possible, it’s not an easy feat to make 100 baskets out of 100 attempts.
Conventional wisdom says one should go “full steam ahead” to advance in life. Of course nothing in nature exceeds 100%. 100% is full. To attempt anything over 100% presumes either failure or a misunderstanding of your limits. There are only three ways to give any ore than 100%: poorly and always failing, because you are lying to yourself about how good you really are, or failing to notice how poor your performance really is.
Even attempting to perform at 100% consistently will result in more failure or poor performance in other aspects of life. Did you ever wonder why a passing grade in school is only 70%? It sets a bar high enough to establish understanding and proficiency while being low enough to be possible to exceed and improve. By establishing a proficiency target of less that 100%, it determines the requirements for successful performance that can be met and still leave room for improvement.
It is important that everybody have a performance target to strive to reach, not just football players at preseason camp. Parent at home, student at school, employee at work, or in whatever role you fill wherever you are you have an expectation of successful performance. And even when you don’t get everything right all the time, your boss still trusts you, your teacher still passes you, and your family still loves you. Maybe more because they also can see the times you exceed their expectations.
Don’t be like the athlete who promises 1000%, or even 110%. If you try to give 110% you will always end up at least 10% short. They set passing at 70% for a reason. Set realistic goals you can make and build on. Try easy and surprise yourself when you exceed expectations!