You Can’t Give 110%

In addition to the Top 3 Self-Help Myths there is another self-help or motivational myth that I would like to debunk and that is the one that says to always give 110%.

You should always do your best of course but to expect to give 110% effort is impossible. One hundred percent is all there is and that is the maximum. One hundred percent means the whole thing.  Everything.  All of it.  Nothing left.

If you are asking for someone to give 110 percent, you are asking for something that is mathematically impossible.

Think of it in terms of your favorite beverage in a pint glass. A business establishment can never claim to give 110% of whatever they are serving in the glass otherwise your drink will be on your lap or all over the the table. A pint glass can only be filled to 16 ounces. That is its 100%. Again, 110% is impossible.

The expectation to give or receive 110% would also mean it would have to be reasonable to expect many other things that fly in the face of logic and what is impossible according to the laws of physics. A day is 24 hours in duration so how could you expect it to magically become 26.5 hours long? Where is the 110% there?

A lot of motivational speakers, teachers and gurus love this saying. It is even popular amongst many athletes and coaches. “Just get out there and give 110%!” And, “go the extra mile.” If you went the extra mile it was because you were physically capable of doing so and decided to do it. Period. You probably could have done it all the while. You just decided to put a little more effort in that day and perform more in line with your potential and then proceed to gratuitously pat yourself on the back for doing 110%.

So what happens then when 110% is not longer enough? Will the ante be upped and the requirement then becomes 120 percent? 130 percent?  If 110% is plausible then why aren’t those values ever tossed around too?

All that you can do is to do your best and the closest you get to giving 100% the better off you will be. Therein lies the problem… how many people actually and truly strive to give 100%? Most people are content with a 40 to 50 percent effort much of the time. If you are approaching 100% or close to it in your efforts you are indeed in the minority and should be recognized as such.

While you can not give 110% you can always give and do more than you think you can. Always strive for more but don’t fall for the ruse of being able to give 110% as it truly is impossible.

Do you believe it is possible to give 110%? What level of effort do you believe that you normally operate at?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado


  1. […] with some talent but who are really gifted with a solid work ethic. They are the ones who truly give 100% at everything they […]

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