What Are the Results of 80 Percent Effort?

by Lance Ekum on · 4 comments

obviamente no soy yo #1
Creative Commons License photo credit: Edu-im

” There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” — Roger Staubach

Effort: An exertion of strength or power, whether physical or mental, in performing an act or aiming at an object; more or less strenuous endeavor; struggle directed to the accomplishment of an object; as, an effort to scale a wall.

Are there some things you do that you’re not giving 100 percent of your effort? Of course there are. To go full out all the time would be difficult at best, and most likely disastrous.

Are there some things which matter greatly to you that you have not given 100 percent effort? Yes, there probably are. However, these things which matter to us are where we should be concentrating our effort.

Example: Last night I was working out. My health is something which I value very much (although I didn’t always). My workout last night consisted of resistance training, specifically deadlifts and squats. After having recently taken a couple of weeks off from any kind of workout, I have been using lighter weights than I had been in the past. Last night was no different. The other difference this time was that I decided to conciously also work on making sure my form was right on as well. During the process of the squat exercise (weight on my shoulders, lowering to a squat position and then rising back up) I realized that all the times in the past when I have been doing this exercise, I have not been going low enough into my squat. In fact, I was only going about 80 percent of the way, or essentially only giving an 80 percent effort. No wonder I was using heavier weights before. It was because the greatest effort comes from the lower you get into the squat position. So, all this time, I’ve been fooling myself in thinking I’m doing well, when really I’ve only been giving about 80 percent of the effort I should.

And this happens in other areas of our (my) life as well. The key is to identify those things which matter the most to you. These are the areas you want to give 100 percent of your effort. If you give 80 percent (or 70, or so on), you’re still doing a good job. But to be really great, or really succeed, in those areas which are important to you — an 80 percent effort is mediocre. Going the extra mile, giving the extra effort, caring more deeply are the things that separate good from great.

So, you have to decide. Do you want to be good or great? Identify those things in your life that really matter, give your full effort, and move from good to great!

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

rebecca June 13, 2008 at 9:32 pm

this piece is so apropos for me today because today my mind was engaged in the topic of health. i’m not much of a junk food eater nor eat too much; it’s that i’m hypoglycemic and have a sweet tooth that i’ve been unable to curb (but truth be told i’m particular in this area also and limit my sweets to chocolate, ice cream or diet soda). no candy, no donuts, no cake, etc. and my metabolism began to slow down around 40ish. it’s been difficult to reprogram my carefree eating ways of eating what i want, when i want. i’ve never been a glutton, once i’m full, that’s it…it’s just that i prefer food that fills the belly. all my life i was very thin…i hit 40, the pounds started creeping up. i’m now 20 lbs. overweight. so, today, i finally joined a gym down the block from my job. i have a treadmill at home but a lot of good it does me. i can’t count on myself to be disciplined enough to do it on my own. if i can figure out WHY i don’t do what i know i’m supposed to do, then i’m halfway to being successful in this. yet, i’m still trying to figure this out. it’s not that i’m stupid; i know if i don’t exercise and begin to watch what i eat, one day i will cry, yet why do i continue doing those things that harm? well, i hope i can find the answer soon because something has to shift internally in me in order for me to finally do this very thing 100%, not 25% or 50% like i always do, but 100%.


Lanceman June 14, 2008 at 9:17 am

Rebecca – Chocolate is one of my weaknesses as well!

I think we do things that aren’t the best for our bodies because a) we are bombarded by advertising b) so many people do it and c) we think short term (it’s easier to sit on the couch now than exercise or it’s easier to open a bag of chips instead of peeling an orange).

You’ll get there, the fact that your even thinking about how to improve is testament to your desire.


Bamboo Forest June 17, 2008 at 12:30 pm

With weight lifting I treasure proper form. Indeed, I much rather use lighter weight and have “zen like form” than more weight and not be targeting the muscle properly.

You make some interesting points. The things that are REALLY important to us, hold nothing back! Generally, I think one has to be careful about the percentages — because far worst than giving 80% is being all or nothing — and consequently doing nothing at all! But I like your emphasis on caring deeply about the things that really matter. Perhaps there comes a time when 1oo% is what we need to bring to the table. Nice post.


Lanceman June 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Great point Bamboo Forest — you’re right on that some things don’t deserve an all or nothing approach. The key is that which matters most to you should get your greatest effort.


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