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A New Business Rule: Giving 85% Effort

Business consultants are calling it “The 85% rule.” An article in The Wall Street Journal explained how it works:

Are you giving it your all? Maybe that’s too much. So many of us were raised in the gospel of hard work and max effort, taught that what we put in was what we got out. Now, some coaches and corporate leaders have a new message. To be at your best, dial it back a bit.

Trying to run at top speed will actually lead to slower running times, they say, citing fitness research. Lifting heavy weights until you absolutely can’t anymore won’t spark more muscle gain than stopping a little sooner, said one exercise physiologist.

The trick—be it in exercise, or anything—is to try for 85%. Aiming for perfection often makes us feel awful, burns us out and backfires. Instead, count the fact that you hit eight out of 10 of your targets this quarter as a win. We don’t need to see our work, health, or hobbies as binary objectives, perfected or a total failure.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Interestingly, if you truly remember the Sabbath—one day out of seven—that equals 85.7% of your week devoted to work. So, the Sabbath was God’s original 85% rule.


Rachel Feintzeig, “Try Hard, but Not That Hard. 85% Is the Magic Number for Productivity.” The Wall Street Journal (9-10-23)

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