Giving 110% 24/7 by Pat Bertram

If I hear one more person say he is going to give a hundred and ten percent, I think I’ll scream or vomit or do something equally repulsive.

What does it mean, anyway? A hundred and ten percent of what? Once you go beyond one hundred percent, you get into a form of mathematics that I know nothing about. It could be a hundred and ten percent of two hundred percent, which isn’t good. Or it could be a hundred and ten percent of one thousand percent, which is worse.

Unless you flunked remedial math, in which case you might have an excuse for your ignorance, you should know that you cannot give more than one hundred percent. That is the maximum. I’m not certain it is even possible for a person to give the maximum effort. Your energy and fluids and muscles would be so debilitated that you might not be able to recover. But if it were possible to give a maximum effort, the world would be a great place to live because of all you special people.

The only expression ghastlier than a hundred and ten percent is 24/7. When speaking of a business, it might apply, but when it is used for a person, as in “I work twenty-four seven,” it becomes impossible. The only thing a person can do 24/7 is breathe, and with sleep apnea being so prevalent, a lot of people don’t even do that 24/7. You certainly can’t work 24/7. What about sleeping? Eating? Defecating? All these activities subtract from that 24/7. (If you continue to work while on the toilet, I don’t want to know about it.)

There is nothing wrong with hyperbole. It is an acceptable literary form. But please, if you must hyperbolize, be inventive. I’m certain that if you try you can come up with something even more annoying than giving a hundred and ten percent 24/7.

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire published by Second Wind Publishing LLC.


Filed under life, musings, Pat Bertram, writing

17 responses to “Giving 110% 24/7 by Pat Bertram

  1. Pat, I promise to give 110% to NOT using the phrase “I’ll give 110%” LOL!

    But really, you make great points! Love the rant 🙂

  2. I think “from day one” and “at the end of the day” should both go away along with “24/7.” They’re not impossible like your 110% effort, just simply worn out.

    • “Intestinal fortitude” is another one that grates on my nerves. “Guts” is better than that. Or plain old fortitude. But intestinal fortitude? What kind of courage do your intestines need? Unless you eat too many foods that don’t agree with it.

  3. Yes, these cliches have gotten tired and useless. That’s why I tell people I’m working 25/8 and giving no less than 220%. Right now, for example, I’m multitasking in a way that involves multiple worlds and quantum mechanics. So, I get more done than is humanly possible within the old, linear concepts of time. Are you buying this yet?


    • Okay, I’ll buy it. I think I have a few extra pennies hanging around.

      Actually, it would make an marvelous story! I’d love to see a character surviving in such an elastic world. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to grab out of the space/time continuum that extra day one always seems to need to finish up a project?

  4. Ah Pat, you make this mathematician happy! Thank you!

  5. Kathy

    Yes, and it’s too bad that people think so little of what 100% means – maybe because they say it and don’t do it so it becomes meaningless. Our culture today seems to be all about saying whatever they please and not following through. Their words mean nothing, so they dismiss your words as meaningless, too. If everybody meant what they said and gave 100% – that would be so fabulous!

    You seemed to have sparked a rant in me. 🙂

    • Kathy, rant away! There is enough in that simple little phrase to bring out the rant in any rational person. I can’t even imagine what a wonderful world this would be if people gave 100% or even half that! Most of us seem to just wander through life, expending the least possible effort.

  6. Cliches are such lazy forms of speech. An amusingly logical blog about an annoying subject. Television is almost unwatchable — or listenable — because of it. (I like Malcolm’s 220% and 25/8 very much!)

  7. Mairead

    Thank you Pat. I needed this chuckle more than you can imagine.

    Back at my old job – a group of us would play b.s. bingo in meetings. (quietly of course, text messaging is such a wonderful thing.) 110%, 24/7, at the end of the day, synergy, synergistic, value-add, and – what’s your end-state vision? Were all on our scorecards.

  8. Ok, sorry but I just have to say it.

    I will promise to give 110% (unfortunately that’s because I’m multi-tasking, which is another way of saying I’m trying to do to many things at once to do any of them effectively, and so not much is really getting done).

    I am also (cover your ears please) a 24/7er. To the annoyance of all I regularly commit (oh, verbiage, now there’s a bad word – oops giving 110% again there) verbiage on occassion when writing or communicating through writing and often using the phrase 24/7.

    Yes, I work 24/7. That’s because I don’t actually have a job that pays me money. Yep, I have an unpaid 24/7 job that just won’t leave me a moment’s peace. I call it self-induced lunacy, but other’s might call it being a stay-at-home parent. But breathe easy 24/7 objectioners, I will soon have to rephrase that to something like 22 & 3/4rs/7 (I’ll have to figure out the math later – my left pinkie for a calculator – anyone? Really, I’m mathematically challenged.). This great change will come at the expense of that wonderful fantastic fabulous public school system as two of my greatest loves (and the two most beautifully frustrating) begin the vaunting trek through kidnergarden and grade one.

    So there you go, I will promise to ever give 110%, but don’t expect much accomplishment, and promise to rephrase my use of 24/7, and will try to stop verbally abusing others with my verbiage.

  9. Very cute and sensible rant.

  10. christinehusom

    There are some irritating, overused expressions. I am probably more distracted when someone uses a phrase over and over. Like is an example. You know what? is another. You know what I’m saying? another. In MN we overuse you know alot.

  11. chellecordero

    Late to the party, just a comment to add (this post came up in an unrelated Google search) – I can understand the ire about the phrase 110% because that is mathematically impossible and figuratively subjective – one person’s FULL effort may equal only 1/2 of someone else’s, etc)
    But 24/7 is very real and not impossible if you truly understand the dynamics, 2 “professions” come to mind:
    Full time parents do work 24/7 and so do emergency 1st responders – even though there may be attempts to sleep, eat or take bathroom breaks, these people are usually ALWAYS on call – if a child suddenly cries or emergency tones go out, you have to wake up or get off the toilet pretty fast and take care of business. There is no such thing as forgetting about your responsibilities for your desired 6-hour sleep; always being on call even if you are trying to take care of other facets of your life does mean that you are always ON 24/7.

    • Your point is well taken — as a matter of fact, I am now in such a position since I am looking after my 97-year-old father. I still hate 24/7, though. Other more standard phrases are better and not so slangy, such as the one you used “always on call.”

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