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The 40% Rule: What Is It? How Can It Help Us Do Our Best Every Day?

The 40% Rule: What Is It? How Can It Help Us Do Our Best Every Day?

  • The United States’ Navy SEALs, (Sea, Air, and Land) are a special warfare development group, and they have a unique philosophy.

“The temperature is what you think it is, not what your computer thinks it is.
If you think it is fourteen degrees, then it’s fourteen degrees.”

In 2011, Jesse Itzler an American Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Marquis Jet, founder of The 100 Mile Group and an owner of NBA’s Atlanta Hawks; decided to run a marathon for 24 hours straight along with six other people. Each marathon runner per team would take turns running twenty minutes legs for twenty-four hours.

The night before the race, Itzler and his team flew into the marathon campsite along with their tents, supplies of foods, water supply, and aids and masseuses for massages.

On the day of the marathon, he came across a Navy SEAL competing as a one-man team, sitting on a folding chair. His twenty-four-hour supply consisted of just one bottle of water and a bag of crackers.
Jesse Itzler described him as…

“A cross between a gladiator and the GI Joe action hero my son has, but life-size. He looked indestructible. Battle-tested. Dangerous. Alone. Determined.”

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During the race, the SEAL did not stop or take any breaks. He ran a hundred miles non-stop.
Once the race was over, Itzler followed up on the Navy SEAL who was being carried off the marathon site with broken bones in both the feet and damage to his kidney. Itzler was so mesmerized by his mental toughness that he decided to invite the SEAL to live with him for 31 days during which he would do anything the Navy SEAL commanded. This led him to uncover the 40 percent Rule and here’s how it works.

What is the 40 percent Rule?

The SEAL would tell Itzler that when your mind is telling you are done, you’re really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it does not suck, we do not do it. And that was his way of forcing us to get uncomfortable to figure out what our baseline was and what our comfort level was and just turning it upside down.

For instance, the Navy SEAL asked Itzler to show him how many pull-ups he could do. Itzler grabbed the bar and completed 8 pull-ups. He was then given a break of 30 seconds and then asked to do it again, only this time he did 6 pull-ups.
The SEAL waited 30 seconds and told him to do it again. Now Itzler could barely move and did 3 pull-ups. Now Itzler had hit his max and told the SEAL that let’s go do something else.

The SEAL stared at him with a blank expression, “We’re going to stay here until you do a hundred.”
The whole point was the overcome his mental barriers and complete a hundred pull-ups.

We have the capacity to tap into the extra 60 percent of energy and motivation in moments of adversity and exhaustion. Think about the last time you pushed yourself beyond the limits of what you thought was possible. In those moments you applied your own version of the 40 percent rule.

The Science Behind the 40 Percent Rule

There hasn’t been much study on this, but some suggest that the “placebo effect”-i.e., anything that seems to be a real medical treatment, but it isn’t, could have a significant impact on your ability to perform tasks.

During a 2008 study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, researchers found out that subjects who were offered a disguise sugar pill but were told that it was caffeine, were able to significantly lift more weight in load in training than those who were given caffeine.

This suggests that it’s possible to train your mind in developing mental toughness for better performance in whatever you do.
Regardless of your profession, the 40 percent rule is the same throughout. Simply ask yourself every day, “How can I push myself further to improve on my work.”

So, what will you choose today- to give up at any sign of adversity or push yourself further than you’ve ever done before?

Read more: Story Of The Kite Maker: Ravindra Pal Singh, Chasing The Flying Dream

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