Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever struggled when it came time to perform or present at a big moment?

Have you ever heard of the “85 percent rule?”

We’re looking at this rule today, and the idea that perhaps changing your mindset can help you to be better prepared for a big test or presentation.

Though you do want to focus on the preparation, when it comes time you also need to relax a bit too.

We’re going to look at this rule, how it can impact your life in many ways, and how you can use this to your advantage.

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Understanding The 85% Rule

Understanding the 85% Rule We’re going to show you what the 85% rule is, and how you can use this in your own life.

There is a really interesting article on that will be helpful to you the listeners on this idea of the 85% rule.

“Exceptional Performers Like Hugh Jackman and Usain Bolt Follow the 85 Percent Rule. So Should You! Why do successful people ease off the throttle in high-stakes situations? Operating at 85 percent actually improves their performance. BY JEFF HADEN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, INC. @JEFF_HADEN

The idea here is that after you prepare for something and when it’s time to actually do it, you put 85 percent into it.

What this basically means is to relax, particularly when you know that you’ve put in the work!

This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a really great approach if you think about it.

The article talks about Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis (an Olympic gold medalist), and how they would relax a bit, not be clenched in their races.

You can read the article for more specifics, and you can check it out using the link above.

The idea is that you need to give yourself a little relaxation, rather than all pressure.

If you are under pressure all the time, it can distract you and keep you from being focused or at your best.

You can’t think straight or focus clearly if you are constantly under pressure.

Whereas if you allow yourself to relax a bit it takes some pressure off of you and you are in a better mindset.

You do still have to put in the work and prepare, but when it comes time for that big event you have to ease off a bit and be relaxed and in the right mental state.

You have to know that you have put in the work and now it’s time to let yourself get the results that you want—and your mindset and general demeanor is such an important part of this.

You Can Only Do So Much

You may be somebody who wants to control everything, as this is a common trait.

The reality is that you may only be able to control so much, as good or bad as that may seem it’s what you must accept and focus on moving forward.

The key to being truly successful is preparation—as that is often the one thing that you do have control over.

The article talks about a Hugh Jackman quote that is very pertinent here–””I actually think you need to risk being bad,” Jackman said, and “just let it be.”

The idea here is that you can only control so much, and sometimes you may just have to sit back and relax knowing that you put everything you can into something.

If you are prepared and you make that a focus, then sometimes you have to leave it alone and wait for results.

The article says you can give 85 percent and feel confident when you are prepared, because preparation is key.

When you can approach a big event and you know that you have put in the work and are truly prepared, then you can relax and let that work for you.

There’s no point in getting stressed out when you have done everything in your power to prepare you for this big moment.

This is definitely a shift in mindset, and it’s all about going into this knowing that your preparation is what will help you to be successful.

Do you agree with this idea?

Have you ever approached a big moment in life and told yourself that you have done everything that you can to this point?

Putting This Into Action In Your Life

There are always instances where a relaxed mindset and preparation can help you to be truly successful.

Think of a big test that you may have studied really hard for, and then when it comes time for it you take a deep breath and use this preparation to help you to do well.

The article gives some examples, but it may be helpful here to focus on what matters to you as the listener.

IELTS and Presentations

This is a perfect example as this is something that many of you will go through.

Think through these steps and tips to help you to prepare for this and then use this preparation to your advantage.

  • Do the prep: Put in the work and do whatever you can to prepare. This is where the majority of the work should occur. The more that you put in at this stage, the more that you can relax and focus in the big defining moment.
  • Work super hard: There are certain things to focus on such as IELTS Energy and the 3 keys. Work hard and make these the primary focus in this preparation phase. It will pay off later when it really matters!
  • Anticipate problems that could come up along the way: Being proactive and anticipating the problem areas will help you tremendously. This is a big part of preparation that people often overlook. This can help you to be on top of your game and ensure that you don’t have to deal with anything that you didn’t anticipate. This is a great form of preparation that so many people tend to forget about!
  • On test or presentation day, remember you are at 85 percent: You have put in so much of the work already, and now it’s time to just showcase that effort. This is your moment to shine and if you go in relaxed and focused in the right mindset, it will help you to be truly successful.
  • If you know this, you will be more at ease, and this can come through to others and also help you perform better: It’s a much better mindset to be in, and it can help you to relax and focus on what matters in this moment. This is all a great reflection of the confidence you should have as you know you are truly prepared and can handle whatever comes your way.


This concept can work for conversations as well, though it’s a slightly different approach.

It may be helpful to go into a conversation with some ideas or a certain degree of preparation, but you also don’t want to make this a formal thing.

  • Same idea here but a tad different because of Connection Not Perfection: You don’t need to be as prepared for conversations, and you certainly don’t want to come across as rehearsed. You can put in some preparation to get to know this person and to have some things to talk about.
  • Prep and know what you want to achieve and learn: It always helps to have a goal of what you want to talk about or what you hope to learn out of this conversation. This gives you a focus and potential conversation topics to use in the moment.
  • When you talk to people, it’s 85 percent: This is a more relaxed approach but yet a certain amount of preparation will serve you well. This is a fine balance that will help you to be a good conversationalist in the moment.


This is a very interesting concept that focuses on the preparation that you put into something.

This is about a true shift in mindset which will help you to be successful and more relaxed, which is good in the long run.

You always want to put in the work and do your part to prepare, but then you have to let it go a bit when it comes to that big moment.

You can read more about this rule in the article, but it’s definitely a concept worth understanding and trying out in certain areas of your life.

How does this apply to your life?

Think of an area where you can try this out, and then see how well it can work for you.

You may be able to be successful if you put the focus on preparation, and then go in with a more relaxed mindset when it comes time to do your best.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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