The 85 Percent Rule

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Have you ever been in a high stakes situation, but end up doing badly due to the nerve wreck inside your head? You feel tense whenever you go through such situations, and your practice and form that you have perfected over and over again goes out the window. How can we get out of this problem?

I recently listened to an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where Tim interviews Hugh Jackman. I highly recommend that you listen to the podcast, it’s very a great insight into the man behind the claws and musicals. He likens the fight scenes in Wolverine as a dance. To obtain the relaxation he needed during fight scenes, he used something called the 85% Rule.

That’s why you see every sprinter poking their tongue out now and dancing around with joy before they run the hundred meters. You know, that sense of having the right level of relaxation. I think that they call it the 85 percent rule. If you tell most A-… If you tell most, sort of, A-type athletes to run at their 85 percent capacity, they will run faster than if you tell them to run 100 because it’s more about relaxation and form and optimizing the muscles in the right way.

And I love the 85 percent, run at 85 percent effort example that you gave. I find so much truth in that statement. I haven’t ever thought of it, but you could apply that to sitting down and writing. You could apply it to almost anything where being over tense is not your friend, and it’s not going to help you.

Listening to that is a total game-changer for me. We often tell ourselves to put in 110% effort in doing something, only to feel tense and end up flopping. I’ve had several high stake experiences where I failed because I can’t relax and focus on t

Clinical Examinations (OSCE’s) are part of my examinations, and it’s these examinations that make me a nervous wreck compared to written exams. No matter how much practice I put in, I’m always trying to find ways to relax while in the waiting room. Maybe I’ll tell myself to use the 85% Rule in the future to make myself relax more and trust that I can do it.

As usual, what are situations in your life where you can use the 85% Rule?

Note: Originally published on my personal blog. Check out my blog if you’d like to read more book notes and articles on productivity, habits, and medical school.

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3rd-year medical student. Check out my blog at

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Haikal Kushahrin

Haikal Kushahrin

3rd-year medical student. Check out my blog at

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