The 80/20/10 Rule.

Why athletes continue to succeed.

Athletes always give 110%. Be it swimmers, football players or track stars. That’s one thing they all have in common. Another thing, is that, even after they “thrown in the towel” for good, their success, whatever career they choose, seems to continue.

Athletes always give 110%. But that’s not why they are more prone to succeed in other areas of life. Their ability to succeed in other areas of life is based on their ability to break down the equation. They have mastered the 80/20/10 rule: Prepare/Polish/Performance.

80%: preparation.

For an athlete, 80% of the work is building the base. It’s running those miles, swimming those yards. It’s doing the heavy lifting. Literally and figuratively. As an athlete, you are building the foundation to stand on. Volume and variation are key components in prepping the body for what’s to come.

And just like with athletics, 80% of you work for a pitch/project/book etc is the heavy lifting. It’s the research, the writing, the rewriting, the talking.

Talent can take you 80% of the way. and if you weren’t blessed with the talent factor, getting 80% of the way can be achieved with good old hard work.

20%: Polish and Passion.

Anyone can get to 80%. If you work hard enough or if you were born with those Michael Phelps feet. But it’s the 20% that counts. This is the part that separates the masses from the elite. Once you reach 80% of your potential, the improvements you will see are incremental. That’s why passion and patience are the most important elements of this phase. Because no matter how talented you are, the details make all the different. And they take time.

It’s been said that 20% of the work take 80% of the time.
And this is the part that takes the longest. Finessing the details. And the closer you get to the top, the more important the details become. Because that person in the lane next to you has also made it over the 80% hurdle. The 20% is where the rubber meets the road, and where good becomes great.

The same goes for life as a professional anything. To go from good to great, you need not only time but passion and patience. Or like Seth Godin said: real professionals hurry in the beginning. So they have time to finesse.

10%: The performance.

Call it a race, the competition, match, game; it’s that thing you have been working towards. Getting up on those blocks is that last 10%. Executing that thing you have been practicing and preparing for. The work is done, but the race is still ahead. At this time, nothing can be changed. You can’t learn a new start or improve you flip turns. Because the moment of action is just that. A moment. The body will do what it’s been trained to do. And come race day, you just have to GO.

Race day in the real word is the presentation, the launch, the premiere. The day you have been preparing for. the moment of truth. And just like the athletes, you just have to go.

Even though the last 10% apply to both athletics and real life scenarios, real life is not always a journey towards a final goal or destination. And this is where the equation becomes a negative one. It’s where a lot of former athletes struggle to adjust to “real life”. Because in real life, we often practice and prepare, just to get better. To gain more knowledge so we can work a little faster, gain a little more. There is no clear goal, it’s just improvements. We won’t know specifically if we succeeded or not. Because in real life, more often than not, there is no podium at the end of the road.