You CANNOT give 110% effort – an explosion of pent up nerd rage

You CANNOT give 110% effort

You CANNOT give 110% effort

I call on the mathematically literate to join forces to together defeat the scourge of "giving 110%". It’s a numeracy blight on the lexicon of our country and it needs to be stopped.

This morning on Daybreak, I had the joyful opportunity to vent on this. An Illinois town has banned boys from wearing baggy jeans that show off their underpants. So, we were asked what we’d ban – and this pent up nerd rage exploded from me (see related blogs for the history of this).

For non-pedants wondering why this phrasing that peppers sports vox pops and X-factor (barring JLS, who delightfully always give 100%) annoys me so much…

  • Maximum effort is 100% – 110% is beyond your capacity.

    Even 101% means you are making an effort beyond your actual capacity. Some may argue it’s justified as you’re increasing your effort beyond what you thought was possible for you – yet that’s irrelevant as the percentage is a measure of maximum output. You can still only give 100%. If your effort output has increased, you need to recalibrate, so what you before called 100% effort, should now be seen as 91% effort.

  • If it’s based on average effort, then 110% isn’t trying that hard.

    If we act generously and find a way to uncap the effort limit by arguing that the percentage given relates to average not maximum effort – then in fact 110% isn’t trying that hard.

    After all, we must assume that with roughly 1/3 of the day sleeping and much of the rest of the day not at optimal levels – that our average effort level isn’t so high. So, a 10% uplift over your normal effort is in fact a rather weak attempt, surely you should be giving 200% (double average) or 1,000% or a million, or a billion or a Googolplex percent effort? It’s all nonsense.

    In one past X-factor, crooner contestant Ray Quinn promised to give 210% and later Robert promised 150%. Did this mean Ray was going to output more effort than Robert? No, it means both of them were talking piffle.

Of course there’s a tongue in cheek element to this blog – and it could be argued ‘110% effort’ has become a standard phrase (cliché) within the English language and so is permissible, we already have a nation blighted by numeracy issues. To perpetuate a misunderstanding of percentages to millions of youngsters simply isn’t good. So, it’s time we put 100% to use, to stop it. Rant over – over to you…

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