A recent magazine article caught my attention. The writer was sharing results she had gleaned from independent research into the characteristics that contribute to greatness in human performance.
According to her the researchers separated performance into two categories: good to great and great to exceptional, and she looked at what it took to move from one category to the next.
This study covered results in fields ranging from sports superstardom to immense business success to academic brilliance. Surprisingly they discovered that, while there are many characteristics deployed by those who moved through the levels to achieve exceptional results, there was one that stood out more than all the others.
I am going to call it the The Habit of Plus 10%.
Certainly in the field of sports, natural talent, genetics, access to high-quality facilities and equipment and superior coaching played a substantial role in the progress and development of superstar athletes.
In the field of academe, parental influence, access to high-quality tuition and interaction with other bright students all played a role, and in the world of business education, opportunity and mentorship contributed enormously to outstanding success.
Determination, drive and commitment were undoubtedly of great assistance in attaining huge outcomes.
In addition to all of those contributors there was one that stood out as being particularly significant in aiding all of those overachievers in not only climbing the ladder of success but in reaching new heights for others to aspire to.
When interviewed about their success almost all of those chosen referred, in one way or another, to The Habit of Plus 10%.
Repeatedly the researchers heard the story of how these folks, regardless of the expectations placed upon them by their teachers, mentors and coaches in terms of expected activity (practice, training, studying, working etc.) routinely added another 10% to their effort.
Those who excelled academically told of how they always added extra time to their studies, beyond what they had planned and typically that extra time averaged around 10% more than their original intention.
Those who excelled athletically did the same thing. They trained 10% longer and 10% harder than their teammates and competitors and on each game day were never satisfied with their own performance unless it reached 110% or more.
And those who built empires claimed to have done so by applying 10% more effort than their competitors. They spoke of setting out to complete 10 sales calls and making 11, working 10 hour days and staying an extra hour, and of increasing their effort by that magical 10% in each and all of their other endeavors.
I have not seen the research to which this writer was referring but I certainly agree with its premise.
Imagine if we simply increased our effort by 10%? Instead of doing three, do four; instead of reading two chapters of a book, read three; instead of approaching eight potential new customers approach nine.
The math may not compute and will not always equal 10%, but the results will astound.
Whenever I am faced with a tough decision I have learned to ask myself a simple question “What’s the downside of X?” If there is no obvious and harsh downside the decision becomes an easy one.
As I examine The Habit of Plus 10% the only disadvantage I can foresee is the sad downside of doing better.
And that’s a downside I can learn to live with.
The Habit of Plus 10% – a small effort that will produce monumental results.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.