Statically speaking, it is impossible to give more than 100% to any effort. Obviously the phrase is meant to inspire, encourage and advance our efforts and results. Luckily, 100% is never a constant, especially in the terms of human achievement.
A 100% effort for you today will not be 100% effort in the future. Hopefully, your additional experience, knowledge and understanding in the future will yield a 100% effort that surpasses your previous 100% achievements. If you don’t think so, then you should stop reading now.
While people will still ask you to give a 110% effort, what they are really asking for is your best effort, which should always be better than it was in the past. I once wrote a corporate motivational song titled, “The Best Get Better Together.” Here are the opening lyrics:
It’s not enough to lead the way,
And get ahead so you can say,
“Hey, look at me today.”
Today you’ve only just begun,
You’ve got to outdo what you’ve done,
To keep on being number one.
So follow your own plan to the letter,
Be proud that you’re a go-getter.
And try to remember always…
The best get better, together
Along with the motivational video produced for the song, it was played at many company annual and sales meetings. One company even used it for their radio and TV ads.
The best get better, together – A simple statement that helped a lot of companies inspire greater and greater achievements from their employees. Hell, I wrote it and it became a mantra for me.
It really helped me in my career in direct response TV. At QVC, I was odd man out. I didn’t have the TV-looks that many of the other hosts had. I also saw the position as a sales job and not a TV gig. That was also different than most of my peers. Because of my style of blending humor with my sales presentations, QVC’s original management team didn’t like me.
An executive secretary I helped out of a jam gave me memos written by executives detailing how they were going to make sure I didn’t get the same bonus payments that the other hosts did. I was always going to take the bastards to court over it, since they were stupid enough to put their plan in writing. It had to be all kinds of illegal. Am I over it? Hell no! Did I take them to court? Same answer, but I have found success beyond anything most of them will ever experience. I know first hand that living well is the best revenge.
If my sales hadn’t been so high, the original management team would have fired me. But they were content with putting me on overnights and making my life miserable. I lost count of all the times I was called on the carpet for successful presentations. As I have said many times in the past, I view Barry Diller as my personal savior when he became our CEO. All he wanted to do was make money. He pulled me off overnights and put me on primetime. His only instruction to me was, “Don’t do anything illegal.”
As the company grew, the hosts were assigned assistants to help answer our mail and email. Most of them just created a few boiler plate texts to use for their correspondence. I chose to answer most of my email myself. My assistant helped with the typing but I answered almost every one personally. Many were requests for help with some technology they bought from me. How could I do anything less than help them use it?
My 100% effort went way up as the emails increased. I spent about 8 hours every week answering technical questions and solving problems. I got really good at it. It really added to my own technical knowledge and it made my on-air presentations better and more comprehensive. In turn, that increased my sales, advancing my standing at QVC. It was a win/sin scenario.
Although many people don’t realize it, their extra effort benefits them as much as their employers. Extra efforts get noticed by employers and many other people. My extra effort answering email was noticed by QVC because of my increased sales. But it also got the attention of some other pretty big companies.
Microsoft, who had liked me since I helped them debut Windows 95 live, on-air, heard from many of their customers about how I was able to help when Microsoft’s customer service could not. They offered me a pretty sweet executive position in customer service. Other large companies offered me positions as well. While I turned them all down at that time, I was able to get consulting gigs with many of them after I retired from the Q in 2001.
So you can give 110%, as long as you calculate it against your past. The benefits of your extra efforts might not come immediately, but they will come.
If those calculations go the other way, and show that you’re giving 90% or less, you have your work cut out for you, unless you strive for mediocrity. If that’s the case, relax, you’ve made it!