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You are Capable of MORE

Each of us has enormous untapped potential. Most business and personal self-help books recognize this reality. The New York Times bestseller list is full of suggestions on how to utilize this potential to improve productivity, break a bad habit, increase income or achieve some other (formerly unachievable) goal.

But the best tips for tapping into that human wellspring of resourcefulness aren't found in a book. Instead, we should take a lesson from the Navy SEALs. Their 40% rule motivates humans to reach goals they never thought possible by going beyond their perceived breaking point. It's the same technique marathon runners use to push past their exhaustion and reach the finish line.

However, you don't have to be an extreme athlete to make use of these mind-over-matter techniques. Here's how you can use the Navy SEAL's 40% rule to access the best parts of your mind and body - and get ahead.

What is the 40% Rule?

The elite military team known as the Navy SEALs understands mental toughness. They've come up with the idea of the 40% rule that allows them to keep going even when the mind and body cry out to throw in the towel. If you follow the 40% rule, you recognize that when you think you're done, you're not - you're really only at 40% of your capacity to achieve your goal.

While this is an anecdote that's become a part of the Navy SEAL code, there is no scientific evidence that the 40% rule really works; except it does somehow. The science does say that the mind over matter placebo effect is behind the Navy SEAL 40% rule allowing these extreme athletes to keep pushing to achieve their goals. It's a mind game that tricks the body into doing more or believing in something that isn't real. A placebo in medicine is a fake pill that tricks the body into thinking it's receiving a healing tonic. The body responds by healing itself. The 40% rule is also a kind of mind game that allows you to access hidden reserves of strength when your first instinct is to give up.

The 40% rule can be applied not only to extreme athletic events but also to our daily career goals. How can the average person apply this cool mind game to achieve more?

How to Use the 40% Rule to Get Ahead in Your Career

You don't have to be a Navy SEAL to make use of the 40% rule. No matter what you do for a living, developing the mental toughness to extend your efforts beyond what you believe to be the limits of your capabilities could propel you to a new place in your career.

For example, you can use the 40% rule to challenge yourself at work. If you are working toward a promotion, break each day into a series of smaller steps instead of staring at one big (seemingly unachievable) goal. Then couple this road-mapping process with the 40% rule to push just a little harder every day.

If you're in sales, try to reach just five more contacts a day beyond your KPIs. If you're job searching, extend your reach by sending out a few more resumes after you're ready to stop for the day.

Simply the act of thinking positive thoughts can lead to greater achievement, according to the SEALs. Using your daily commute to create a task list, visualize yourself accomplishing them, and then telling yourself you will make things happen, can all improve your performance at work. Simple self-affirmations help Olympic athletes perform better, and they can help you achieve more at work. That's the placebo effect: If you believe you can, you will.

The point is if you think you can't do any more, you're wrong. There is gas left in your tank, you just have to keep going long enough to access it.

Looking for other tools to get ahead in your career?

Applying with a staffing firm is a smart way to get more mileage out of your job-search efforts. A staffing recruiter can help you uncover new job opportunities and provide encouragement to keep you motivated and focused on achieving your goals.

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