One of my pet peeves is when somebody says, “I always give 110 percent.”

I call bullshit.

Nobody, except maybe elite athletes, ever gives near even 100 percent. And that's for mere seconds, nothing long enough to sustain a business venture!

Usain Bolt runs the 100 and 200 meter sprints. He keeps up his speed for the entirety of each race.

But he runs 20 seconds (or less) at a time.

If he were to run a 400, it would take him 6x as long to run as the 100, which is over four times the distance.


The physiological reason is ATP production. Or rather, the turnover rate of ATP production.

The body simply cannot make enough of it to sustain 100 percent effort over more than about 30 seconds.

And that's for elite athletes who have more talent, more favorable genetics, and more conditioning.

Us mere mortals could give max output for 20 seconds before we started to falter.

And that's at 100 percent.

There is no such thing as giving more than 100 percent.

Now, you may think you can give 110 percent. But you can't. It's impossible.

What you're really doing is rationalizing your circumstances.

We all want to think we're giving 100 percent at all times.

And then our circumstances change and we give more.

So, DUH!, we must be giving more than 100 percent.

Problem is, we almost never get anywhere near 100 percent in our every day lives.

And especially if you consider periods of hours and not seconds.

There is nothing wrong with this.

After all, most of modern life is a marathon, not a sprint. Most of us in the “civilized world” need not be concerned with outrunning lions or tigers or bears.

What's this got to do with marketing or business?


And nothing.

How's that for ambiguity?

I think Seth Godin said it best in this post:

We often talk about trying, about effort and 110%, but it's mostly glib. The fact is, very few of us try our best, at the maximum, ever.

Usually, what we do is, “try our best under the circumstances.”The trick: don't redefine trying. Redefine the circumstances.

It's almost impossible to reliably increase your effort, to put more try into the system.

On the other hand, “the circumstances” are merely our narrative, the way we're choosing to see the world. We can redefine the narrative about our circumstances with a wave of the hand.

This moment, this interaction, this customer… these are the perfect circumstances, the most urgent, the highest leverage. The one we have right now.

Work with that. 

Do you see it? It's not the effort but rather the story you paint inside your own head. We can't always give 100 percent. But we can almost always give more.

And that's the key. Give more.

Want to beat your competitors? Give more.

Want the best reviews? Give more.

Want to win more business? Give more to your existing customers.

Hope this helps. I gave you 70.6% on this one.


giving 110 percent

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