Use the 40% rule to achieve more success

Life is a marathon, not a sprint

I mentioned in one of my books that about a decade ago my wife and I decided to give up on socialising for six months to train for the Sydney Marathon.

The idea was to save some money for a deposit on a Sydney flat, and to push ourselves physically to get fitter and healthier.

We gave up boozing and late Friday nights out for half a year, and began running around Centennial Park on weekend mornings instead.  Jogging 2343558 1920 (1)

If you’ve ever run the Sydney Marathon you’ll know that the first and last part of the course are great.

Early on, there’s the uplifting crossing of the infamous Sydney Harbour Bridge to keep you motivated, and then the cheering crowds as you fairly skip down Oxford Street (including the random heckling from the ‘excitable’ Kings Cross nightclub stragglers…ha!).

The course gets horribly hard, though, particularly in the second half, where there’s a nasty incline as the course swings disconcertingly away from the city finish line and up the ugly tarmac of the City-West Link.

There are no friends in the crowd on that part of the course – and there’s no Sydney Opera House to spur you on – just a dreadful stretch of upwards-sloping highway.

Digging deep

It was just before the halfway mark that my wife exclaimed in anguish that she wouldn’t make it to the finish due to the excruciating pain in her knees, as we did the loop around the familiar Centennial Park. 

Want to take advantage

Heather is a tough cookie – a much tougher nut than me, certainly, if that means anything – and she doesn’t complain about pain easily.

In fact, she later had to have an operation on her ailing knees, as all the training and the full 26-mile course itself took their combined toll.

It was an unseasonably hot September day when we ran the marathon in Sydney, bright, cloudless, and about 27 degrees at the peak of the morning sun, and yet most people finished, and eventually we trotted across the line with great relief in a semi-respectable time.

After looking like a distant possibility at just before the halfway mark, from somewhere we dug deep and made it all the way to the finish line.

Mental toughness

We all know that there are reams and reams of BS on the internet.

But occasionally – just occasionally – you can stumble across a little gem that makes all the misspent hours worthwhile.

Last week I read about the 40% rule – thanks to London developer Nicole Bremner for the link – a concept that has since intrigued me.

When you think your energies are exhausted, it may be that you are only 40 per cent of the way through your untapped reserves of energy.

The 40% rule

A chap called Jesse Itzler wrote about this idea in his book Living with a SEAL.

You can debate the science behind the rule – which essentially holds that when you think you are mentally and physically cooked, you are probably only about 40 per cent done – but as a motivational tool, it could be surprisingly powerful.

If I’ve only watched Disney’s Frozen 40 per cent of the total number of times I’ll see it, please end me now!

Yet, what about the positives?

Anyone that’s worked in a stressful career job or in a small business must have uttered the fateful words at some point: “I’ve had enough! I just can’t take this crap any more!”

But perhaps you can?light-bulb-idea-leader-think-smart-clever-failure-motivate-thought

Maybe you are more resilient than you think, and you aren’t even half way done?

Just as importantly, we can see that most people give up on their goals far too easily, so maybe there’s a hidden opportunity here too.

When obstacles fall in your path or the going gets tough, you should know that you absolutely can keep going, safe in the knowledge that most people will give up sooner than you because it all gets too hard.

By resolving to remember the simple 40% rule, you might just become a winner.


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Pete Wargent


Pete is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. Using a long term approach to building businesses, investing in equities, & owning a portfolio he achieved financial independence at the age of 33. Visit his blog

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