This article was originally written by Michael Hall - gently edited by The Coaching Room
You hear it all the time— “Give it your all!” “Go for the gold.” “Second place is for losers.” “You’ve got to be a 110% person.” Even book titles argue for this. For example, in spite of some statements to the contrary within the books, Anthony Robbins’ books “Unlimited Power,” and “Awaken the Giant Within.” Tony actually tempers this emphasis in the second book as he there argues that when exercising, doing 70% of your best is actually more optimal.
To get through some of the mythology of “Giving it your all” or your best, let’s begin with the most obvious non-sense— the statistic itself. Statistically it is impossible to give 110 percent of effort. At the very most, could you actually even give 100 percent? This may surprise you, but the answer is “No!” And why not? Because it is impossible to “give 100% to any one thing.” After all you also at the same time have to maintain your body, your health, your consciousness, etc. That will take up some percentage of “your all.” So when a person speaks about giving more than 100, that person is using extreme language to make a point. Understanding it in that way makes it poetic, and it is understandable only metaphorically. To even think for a moment that the person is being literal is a great way to create stress and overwhelm.
The problem with “giving it your all” is that if you did— you would become a highly out-of- balanced person. And that is definitely not good! Once you exhaust your all, and there is nothing left to give— you will not be in a very good place physically, mentally, emotionally, or in any other way. You will certainly not be resourceful. Being in a state of exhaustion, you will be in a state of deficiency and we know that deficiency does not bring the best out in people. People in deficiency feel threatened and needy which is why they then become desperate. Think of a person deficient of air under the water. Think of someone deficit of food, water, sleep, etc.
Hidden behind these ideas of “giving it your all” is the cognitive distortion of all-or-nothing thinking and over-generalisation. And thinking in those ways then leads to the toxic state that we call “perfectionism.” Now who would be attracted to this? Who would be seduced by this? Ah, Type-A personalities! First-borns. High achievers. Those richly rewarded for pushing themselves. Also those with meta-programs of optimism, or “aggressive” stress response.
“Giving it your all” seduces these people and makes sense to them because it doesn’t sound extreme. It sounds reasonable. It sounds like an obvious way to live your life. But as a person becomes unbalanced by “giving 100 percent,” and then needing days (or even weeks) of recovery, they are building an on–and–then–off motivation pattern. And, when they begin suffering from a manic–depressive oscillation, they try to “solve” things by pushing themselves further and harder. And if they hear anyone say nearly anything that sounds like a new solution, they jump on that bandwagon — Yes, I need some time management skills. Yes, I need another adrenalin jump by attending “Date with Destiny” again. Yes I need X or Y of some new age or alternative medicine.
The real solution? Ecology. This is one reason that we in Neuro-Semantics use the ecology questions to run a “quality check” on our activities, our beliefs, decisions, etc.
- Does this enhance your life and bring out a healthy balance?
- Does it empower you as a person?
- Does this reflect your highest spiritual path?
- Would you want this for your loved ones?
- Would this ruin anything in your life— finances, relationship, health, etc.?
In NLP and Neuro-Semantics we also speak a lot about resources. We ask if you have certain resources — capacities, beliefs, decisions, understandings, etc. And while some of these resources are “unlimited” in that they can be constantly replenishing, some resources have numerous limitations— constraints.
For those that are replenishable— we do have to take time and effort to replenish them. Take inspiration for example. Here is an abundance, not-scarce, and unlimited resource. But you could run out of inspiration. It happens. The solution is to constantly keep renewing yourself in the ideas and experiences that put fresh inspiration into you. This means that while it is potentially an unlimited resources, it is not automatic. It’s like working out at the gym. You can’t stay there 8 or 12 hours a day. You have to go home and rest, you have to get good sleep. Otherwise, if you “give it your all” and fail to calibrate to your body, you can severely damage yourself.
Other resources require that we understand their constraints. I may be able to access my courage, but if I don’t know the constraints of when and where and with whom I express my courage, I could be taking risks that endanger limb and life. So with acceptance, and appreciation, and learning, and many other personal resource states— going at something 100% can be very destructive.
If you are one of those “giving it your all,” “going 110 percent,” and never giving yourself a break persons— take a breath, slowdown, enjoy the moment, come into sensory awareness, reflect on what’s really important. It will enable you to be more resourceful at being the best you.