Sunday Snippet: Jesse Itzler

“He showed me, proved to me right there, that there was so much more, we’re all capable of so much more than we think we are.”

The quoted statistics on the matter can vary considerably, but it is generally assumed to be true that the majority of new businesses will fail within the first few years. Among the thousands or even millions of young hopefuls who aspire to compete in the Olympics, only a small handful ever qualify and an even smaller number come up with some hardware. What sets those who succeed apart from everyone else?

Even when we look at much more modest goals among the general population, the same phenomenon can largely hold true. Of the countless people who make new year’s resolutions to lose weight or to quit smoking, how many actually see their goals through to completion? Author and entrepreneur Jesse Itzler might be able to explain at least one part of the equation.

In a brief video he shot with Big Think (embedded below), he explains that many of us underestimate just how much we are capable of doing. When we think that we are ready to throw in the towel and give, when we think that we’ve run out of energy and willpower, we actually actually still have a lot more in the tank.

He says that the tank is still more than half-full.

“When your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done.”

This insight isn’t really his. Instead, it’s a lesson he gleaned after living with a Navy SEAL for a month. Navy SEALs are taught this so-called “40-percent rule” so that they know they can continue to dig down even deeper and keep moving forward. If you force yourself to continue, you’ll be surprised with how much you can do.

The new businesses that survive are run by the people who stuck with them, even when times were tough. Olympic medalists are the athletes who persevered through years of grueling training, even when their bodies were ready to give up. Those who successfully quit smoking do so because they find the willpower to overcome the physical and mental addiction.

Canadian Penny Oleksiak just won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle at the Rio Olympics. This is despite being in 7th place at the halfway mark of the race. In her own words, she simply “put my head down and bit my lip and I was just going as hard as I could” for the last 15 meters. She dipped into a reserve tank many of us forget that we have.

Do you subscribe to the 40-percent rule? Can you dig a little deeper?