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The 50% Rule

A rule that's helped me achieve authentic success

My first big-girl break came when I was offered to lead strategy and business development for our company's international division. Honestly, it was a job that I didn’t say “yes” to out of the gate.

I was just under thirty years-old at the time. I was a small-town girl raised in Northern Michigan who had only traveled a few times out of the country and spoke one language (except I did know how to say, “Can I order a beer?” in three languages, but I was thinking that probably didn’t quite help my resume.)

Said another way: I felt soooo unqualified for the job.

I had this sucky song I was playing over and over in my head called, “I don’t have the experience it takes to do this la la." I know you’ve sung this one before. Hopefully you made it past “No frickin way" chorus to actually consider taking the leap. If you were like me, you probably sought out mentors and friends for advice. I kicked this big opportunity around like a rag doll. And guess what? No one really had the answer.

Except me.

I finally decided to go for it. At the time, the rationale wasn't fancy or noble. It was simply that I figured if I didn't take the job, they'd probably hire some Dude that had all kinds of experience on paper but that would probably end up doing a shitty job anyway.

This sounds cynical. And it is. But at the time, my library of self-talk, Win one for the Gipper" speeches was pretty limited.

After taking the job and bobbing and weaving my way to (mostly) success, I realized a few things:

  1. It was the biggest career catapult I ever had; it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for my next career move.

  2. I had essentially found a new formula; a "rule" that I would follow from here on out to not only help my career, but keep me learning, stimulated, and energized.

The 50% Rule: Always seek out assignments, roles, and jobs that make you 50% uncomfortable.

Do you ever wonder how some people train, prepare, and achieve great success, yet others remain kinda stuck?

Over the years, I realized that this unspoken"50% Rule" was the difference maker between those that achieved great success and those that didn't. I realized that the most successful people were continually in search of their next role that would make them about 50% uncomfortable.

That is, they were in search of, and confidentially going for, a job that allowed them to bring approximately 50% of what they'd learned in their previous work. And a job in which they'd have no effing clue how to do the other 50%.

If you were to get 50% uncomfortable, what would that mean? Would you...

  • Take a role in sales, even though you've always been a behind-the-scenes numbers person?

  • Volunteer to lead a project in your department that is something you barely know the first step to take?

  • Realize that even though you're really frickin' good at your job, you have to search out something new or you won't keep growing (or be energized like you once were?)

  • Go out and volunteer your time in a department, company, or organization so you could peek around the corner to see 50% uncomfortable opportunities you've always secretly wanted to explore?

  • Tell your boss that you want to be given opportunities that stretch you ~50%?

For me, these "Would you?" statements evolved more and more over time. In fact, the 50% Rule has actually evolved to mean even more to me now.

As I stepped into this new, at least 50% uncomfortable world of entrepreneurship, I struggled. Not because I was worried about not knowing what I was doing (I actually now embrace and thrive on being uncomfortable), but rather because I struggled with learning the "rules" of my new industry and always feeling like they weren't quite authentically me.

And then it hit me: here is another place I can apply the 50% Rule!

I realized that it's important for me to learn how other people have had success. How they've launched their book, landed more speaking engagements, etc. At the same time, why can't I commit to putting my own 50% spin on things as well?

Expanding the definition of my own rule has been a game-changer for me. I've significantly curbed this icky feeling I was constantly faced with: I know that's how it's been done before, but I don't really like to do things that way.

I now go into everything I do, ready to apply the 50% Rule. It allows me to learn from others, but it also gives me permission to do things in a new, fresh, and sassy way. A way that is more "me."

Applying this rule also paves the path for innovation - not just for me and my business - but innovation that the industry needs. It allows me the ability to pick and choose those things that I want to do "normal" and those things that I want to shake up and do in a totally new way.

What one big barrier would you be able to move if you started applying your own 50% Rule? What big new thing could you accomplish?

You never know, it may just be the thing that 100% changes your life.

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