The 40% rule: exploring the US Navy seals’ secret of achieving more
We think that we know our limits. But the fact is that we are capable of doing much more than we perceive. It is only our mental block that makes us think that we are done. We can run faster, we can learn much more, and we can go on longer; no matter how tough the path is.
Whether we are working out, studying, or doing a tiresome job, there comes an instance when one feels like stopping. But trust me, that is not your full potential.
Marquis Jet founder Jesse Itzler explains a rule he learned from a Navy SEAL who came to live with him for a month. Itzler highlighted his experience in his most recent book Living with A SEAL.
The 40% rule
The 40% rule says that whenever your mind thinks that you are done, you are only 40% done. This rule is about mental fitness and how we have an unused pool of power and determination in us which can be utilised to achieve much more.
This is the idea that Seals use to get success that is quite impossible by the standards of us mere commoners. It has been found that more than 90% of the marathon runners are actually able to finish marathons in spite of the mental and physical toll these marathons take on the runners.
Itzler wrote about experiencing the power of this rule the very first day that the SEAL moved in with him. In his book he talks about how on the day the “SEAL” came to live with his family he was asked how many pull ups could he do. After doing eight pull ups he was asked to take 30 seconds and do it again. So after a 30 second break Itzler again did six more pull ups, really struggling this time.
The Seal asked him to repeat after another 30 seconds and this time Itzler could hardly do four more. After his Itzler really felt he was done and could hardly move his arms but the Seal was relentless and he told Itzler that they would not leave the place till he had completed a total of 100 pull ups and though Itzler for the life of him couldn’t have imagined doing 100 pull ups, but he ended up doing just that.
The Seal proved to him on that very first day that there is so much more, we’re all capable of if we only go out of our self-created boundaries.
Eventually during the course of the month, they ran through snow storms, jumped into a frozen lake and did much more than what Jesse Itzler thought he could ever do.
SEAL : David Goggins
The SEAL Itzler devoted a whole book to is none other than David Goggins. Goggins holds the World Record for highest number of pull-ups done in 24-hours, has been a fifth rank holder in the 135 mile race or the Badwater as well as an Ironman triathlete.
Itzler explains the Seal’s motto, “If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it” Well that is quite a stellar one as far as mottos go but what he meant was that one needs to push boundaries, get out of the comfort zone, push on even when the mind tells you, the limits have been reached to find out what your baseline really is.
Basically Goggins taught Itzler and his family to discover their boundaries and limitations and completely turn them upside down. They learned the secret that our limits and boundaries are nothing but ‘perceived’ limits and they are much easily challenged. We are often not reaching our full potential and just limiting ourselves to 40 percent of our actual capabilities.
A fact about Goggins that will truly amaze you is that he weighed over 200 pounds while running ultramarathons and suffered from atrial septum defect, a heart defect caused by a hole in the walls of the heart, which limits a person’s endurance.
For 34 years David has lived and achieved so much while retaining only about ¾ working of his heart. The right side of his heart receives too much oxygenated blood while the rest of the body does not get as much blood as it should.
How can the 40% Rule help you?
The ‘rule’ applies to everyone and under every situation. One you start believing in it, you will always out par your expectations. Next time whenever you think that you are through, remind yourself that you are just half way through your stores of energy and determination. When your body aches, your will, still has a lot to give. You can always push some more. And that’s true of just about everyone.
As It turns out, it is actually the 40 percent rule that lies at the heart of most runners finishing marathons. When the runners hit their limit in the mind, they are actually only 40 percent done i.e. they have used only 40 percent of their stamina and determination and thus are able to go much beyond by just holding on.
When the body begins to complain there is still a lot to give and this is true of mostly everyone. This truth has a huge impact on every walk of life. Whenever life puts a challenge in your path and you feel you can do no more; just remember the SEALs’ 40 percent rule to remind yourself that your limits really aren’t reached and you can achieve a lot more. Your limits are much higher than what you expect them to be.