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the extra 1%

May 12, 2011

As per yesterday’s post, I’ve had commitment questions on the brain lately.

Here’s the deal: I am not a slacker. Not even close. Recently, though, I’ve been wondering if I really give everything I do everything I’ve got? The truth is that sometimes I’m really good at being 99% committed.  But that other 1%? That’s my hedge fund. It’s an allowance for excuses, explanations, and good old fashioned laziness. If I run at 99% exertion then I still have 1% to fall back on if I get tired/lazy/indifferent at some point mid-run. If I put forth 99% of my effort into achieving a goal, then I won’t feel like a complete failure if it doesn’t end up working out. I can simply site the 1% clause.

Get ready for the Hallmark quote. You’re going to want to sew this one on a pillow.

Excellence doesn’t associate with 99%.

It’s true! The Army doesn’t want you to be almost all that you can be. Maxwell House coffee isn’t good to the second to last drop. Nike will never implore you to Just Do It Sometimes.

99% is a problem. It’s a great start. It’s almost enough. But not if you want to be a 100 percenter. And I do!

Yesterday was Day 1. I decided to go for a run even though I was tired and short on time because I want to be 100% committed to a healthy lifestyle. It was a beautiful day and I knew that ultimately I’d be unhappy with the decision to get things done indoors instead of getting outside in the sunshine for a quick loop around the neighborhood. And I knew that tired and short on time, in reality, were illegitimate excuses parading around in legitimate clothing. Let’s be honest.

So before I could change my mind I sprinted upstairs to change into running clothes and headed out the door and down the street. About half way into the loop I considered that maybe I was actually more tired than I thought. Or maybe it was the generous helping of Grand Central Station the other day. Or maybe it was all of the whoopie pies, brownies, and cookies in between.

It’s the end of the year, people. Don’t judge. There’s a lot of celebrating going on and a lot of food to go along with it!

Regardless of the reason, I hit a wall pitifully early. Like, 2 miles in early. TWO! Oh my land. Shameful.

We’re not talking the Great Wall of China, here. It was just more work than usual to propel myself down the road. During the last mile, though, I was pretty sure my stomach was going to fall out of my body. This was likely due in large part to the fact that I had just consumed a tall iced coffee within a half hour of deciding to go for a run. A fact I was reminded of with every sloshy step.

When I rounded the corner back to campus I realized I had a choice: I could end the run at the first road back to the apartment and take a long, flat walk home, or I could run uphill to complete a full circle from where I started. 99% of my brain voted for Option 1. It said that the extra tenth of a mile was chump change. The real job was done simply by getting out and running in the first place. But 1% of my brain knew that choosing not to run up that hill and complete the full loop would be selling my entire effort short. It’d be 99% commitment – better than zero or 50% or even 95% – but still not where I’d like to be, not what I owe in gratitude for legs that can run uphill and a day nice enough to go out and do it.

You can guess what happened next. Partially because I really do want to consistently give 100%, and partially because I was writing this post in my head as I was running and not finishing strong would have been a lame ending to this story…I ran up the hill. My stomach did not explode. I did not keel over. IN FACT…I had more energy post-run, plenty of time to get to my next activity, and so much more satisfaction with the day as a whole and my contribution as a participant.

Good things happen when you give 100%.

And it happened again today! I contemplated when I could get a workout in and saw the 99%: limited chunks of time, sore muscles, waning motivation, and a decent workout yesterday. All good enough reasons to skip today’s run, right?

Maybe, but not if you’re aiming for 100% commitment.

At first reluctantly, I headed out the door again with my extra 1% in tow. And you know what? The same results followed. I felt so much better for the rest of the day, mentally and physically. The rewards for giving everything you’ve got are so much greater than what it costs to get there.

All of this begs the question: What am I 100% committed to? A bunch of things, actually. Knowing Christ better today than yesterday, and expressing more of his love to friends, family, and strangers as a result. Learning something new about photography every day. Writing an interesting, unique, and authentic blog. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle fueled by healthy, homemade food. I’m 100% committed to ENJOYING LIFE, to not letting yesterday or tomorrow infringe on today. (That one’s a killer for me, but I’m committed to working on it!)

“Do a deed great or small; do it right or not at all.”

I used to loathe that saying growing up. It was my mom’s favorite (particularly when I was in the midst of cleaning my room). But I appreciate it now, and I’m committed to doing deeds well – 100% well – whether they are great or small or in between.

(Thanks, Mom!)

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