Growing up, I had the mentality to only give 90% on just about everything. Rarely did I leave it all on the field during a football or baseball game. I pretty much never maxed my mind out studying for an exam or writing a paper. And never, no never, would I put myself all the way out there to learn something new – playing an instrument, playing golf, whatever. It was consistent across the board, and there was an insidious and conscientious reason for it.
If I only gave 90% I always had a ready-made excuse for failing.
“If I had lifted weights harder I could have been recruited to play college football.” “If I studied harder I could have been my school’s valedictorian.” “If I had played a little more I could have turned myself into a pretty decent golfer.” These are all actual statements I have made to myself and to others. Problem is, I wasn’t any of those could-have-beens. I was an average football player with good grades who still can’t hit a driver off the tee.
By not trying I was attempting to hedge my bets, to create a buffer for failure. Instead by only giving 90% I did fail. Not trying is failure. I left satisfaction in the weight room and the classroom. Sure, it’s a nice line to boast about what might have been, but I fell short. Satisfaction lies in the last 10%.
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Giving 90% is like the servant who buried his talent in the ground until the master returned instead of using it in whatever way he could to increase its value. It’s like a tithe of 10% to our own reputation and ego.
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