I first heard about the 85- percent rule from a Tim Ferris interview with Hugh Jackman. It was originally from a study on how Carl Lewis, one of the world’s greatest sprinters consistently beat his opponents. They originally thought that his win may be attributed to his longer legs and subsequently longer strides. But when they watched closely, they realised that what truly caused his wins was the fact that he kept at a steady pace all throughout. Even as he was nearing the final stretch where most runners would be pushing to their thresholds, he kept at his own steady and relaxed pace. It is an approach that asks us to listen to our rhythm and go with this even if the circumstances outside change.
When we put so much emphasis on an outcome, we tend to think that we have to give our utmost to make this happen. But what actually happens is that the over fixation on this goal actually causes us to get tensed and stressed. Being in this state suppresses the flow that is key to optimal performance. We are called instead to trust in the process, to believe that we have prepared well and then to simply execute.
It is a form of surrender and letting go. Quite hard for many of us with control issues. But what is interesting is that we get to this point where we can just play because we took control of our training, we deliberately showed up everyday. This rigor has freed us to simply be when it is time to perform. So 85 percent is actually enough to get us going no matter what.