Time For An Unreasonable Effort?

When we think about developing our personal performance we make some calculations.  We decide what is reasonable effort; a judgment about the level of effort that will be necessary and the risks associated to failure. Then we compare the effort to the potential gain.

Our personal definition of reasonable effort becomes the border of our performance potential – because we rarely make what we consider unreasonable effort. Once we perceive something as unreasonable we have an immediate tendency to move into a victim loop…making excuses and finding justifications.

US Navy SEALS have a ‘40% rule’ that explains our perception of reasonable effort. What it means is that at the point you think you’re done, when there is nothing left, in fact you’re at about 40%. In terms of absolute potential there is still 60% in the tank! From an evolutionary point of view the mind seeks to limit exertion because it is always trying to conserve resources. Fatigue it turns out is actually more of an emotion than a physical reality.

To really move the needle on performance we need to stretch our definition of reasonable effort, this takes us our of our comfort zone.

Here is a framework for thinking about performance:

– What is my reasonable effort?

– Is this sufficient for the gains I want to make?

– What else could I do that at the moment I think is unreasonable?

– What support do I need from others to help me move forward?


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