110% Myth

You gotta work hard, give it your all!  110%! Anything less won’t cut it!”  We hear it all of the time in some variation. We hear it from football stars, Olympians, college athletes, and even businessmen and women.  Well, let me just say this, as an employer and a coach:  I don’t want your 110%!  Why? Because it is a lie. 

Now, I realize that they are trying to emphasize how hard they are working.  So maybe I am being nitpicky, but if you give me your 100%, I would be perfectly happy with that.  I would be ecstatic with that.  If you are truly giving me 100%, that tells me one thing - you gave me literally all that you have to give. If you are giving me 100%, you truly have no more to give.  Effort, desire, energy, focus – they are not like our loose credit and funny money economy where we dupe ourselves in to constantly thinking that we can spend more than we make and then fix that by borrowing even more.  

110% effort? That tells me that your 100% is not really all that you can give. So, what would make me believe that your claims to give 110% are anything more than a self-congratulating smoke screen to say you are really weren’t giving everything before? Giving 110% sounds so much better, more forceful and earnest than, “Well, I have come to realize that I could have and should have been working harder in the first place.”   If you can give me 110%, how do I know when you have given me everything? Because if you can go over 100%, what is magical about 110%? Can you really give me 120% How about 200%?   

Nothing throws up a bigger red flag to me than when a potential employee is overly boastful to me about how great he will be, how hard he will work, how happy that I will be that I hired the gift from God that he is presenting in himself. The same goes for when parents gush about how utterly fantastic, engaging, focused and hard working their child will be for my team. Sell me on it with your actions not your words.  Be confident. Know what you can do and be able to communicate that clearly. But don’t puff yourself up. Don’t overstate your efforts, intentions and abilities. If you are really “all that” then it will become evident. As my dad used to always say, “The cream always rises to the top.”

There are few things in the game of volleyball (or even in life!) that you can truly control. One of those is your effort.  When you come into my gym (or onto my job site) I am not looking for perfect.  This is what I want - I want your honest sincere effort.  I want you to work hard and push yourself and allow yourself to be pushed to do more, to be more than you thought possible. And when I push you a little farther, a little harder I want you to embrace it.  I want you to allow yourself to be challenged. Can you work a little harder? Can you give a little more? Can you be a little better? Most of the time, we could all say yes. And if yes, then have we achieved 100% yet? So, let’s drop the jock-talk. Let’s be real. Be genuine. Then, strive to give all that you have for yourself as well as your teammates. If you reach 100%, that is all I can ask of you.  So… what are you giving today?


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