Work Smarter, Not Harder With the 85% Rule

To be successful in life, experts will tell you it requires an approach that allows you to maintain awareness, be focused, and possess a sense of confidence, all at the same time. Doing that doesn’t mean applying maximum effort at full force, though. The fact is, some would say the 85% rule works wonders to achieve the success you want in life.

What Is the 85% Rule?

The 85% rule was termed by a sprint coach who studied Carl Lewis’ winning technique.

Carl Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist, was always a slow starter. Although the other runners would have the initial lead, they would succumb to the win at the end of the mark by Lewis. Did Lewis have to push even harder to win? Apparently not. It was learned that Lewis was strategic in applying what is now known as the 85% rule. If you’re working at 85%, meaning not operating at the limit of your ability, you have room to think.

Operating at only 85% gives you room to grow and adapt. At 85%, you have room to assess your performance, evaluate the responses and interactions with the people around you, and ultimately outperform everyone else.

How To Make the 85% Rule Work for You

The one caveat to the 85% rule is that you must put the work in ahead of time. Even if you work at 100%, if you haven’t properly prepared, there’s no guarantee your 100% will be enough to pull you through. You have to know you’re up for the job and have what it takes to get it done. You have to know you’re ready. When you’re prepared, you exhume the confidence you need to relax and breathe in the good thoughts that enable you to eventually escape all the noise and come out on top.

Applying the 85% Rule

Calibrate your effort – Know how much intensity you need in any situation to succeed. What you’re trying to do may not even call for maximum effort.

Reduce the pressure – You probably have a lot of energy built up before a big event, meeting, or presentation. One way to gain momentum at the onset is to reduce the pressure. You can do this by doing some form of movement or exercise before starting. You could also take a few deep breaths to help settle you down.

Manage your time with breaks – Rhythmic renewal is necessary for anyone who wants to be at their best. You can’t work non-stop at all times and expect to be a top performer in what you do.

Breaks are necessary – and I don’t mean just that one-week vacation during the year or a long weekend two or three times a year. To perform at your best, breaks are necessary throughout the day. There’s a 555 model that recommends one hour of work looks like this: work for 55 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. You can do anything during those five minutes as long as you’re not trying to be productive. That’s one suggestion for rhythmic renewal, but there are other ways to ensure you take the necessary breaks throughout the workday. Rhythmic renewals are necessary to avoid burnout, making it easier to think and be more productive overall.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to find a comfortable balance when you’re shooting for being the best at what you do. According to the experts, it’s a lot easier to be a top performer when performing at 85%. That means not feeling rushed, forced, or under tremendous pressure. The key is calmness, focus, and relaxation – after preparation. So, whether you’re pitching an idea, leading a meeting, leading a project, meeting with a client, or trying to be the number one athlete in the world to be your best, you may want to apply the 85% rule.

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