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What we’re reading: “The 110% Solution” by Mark McCormack

The late Mark McCormack, author of  The 110% Solution, believed that many people coast without giving complete effort.

“It has long been my conviction, however, that 50% or 75% simply isn’t good enough,” he wrote. “I’m not even talking about ‘success’ right now. I’m talking about happiness.

“Having lived for sixty years, having run my own business for more than three decades, having dealt with people around the world and in many different walks of life, this fact seems crystal-clear: Human beings feel their best when they are doing their best.”

McCormack summed it up this way: “The goal is to be as demanding of ourselves as we choose to be, yet tolerant of others whose priorities are different.”

He started International Management Group, now known as IMG, in 1960 with a handshake deal with golfer Arnold Palmer, and the company has since represented many superstars in sports, fashion, and the arts.

The 110% Solution is full of advice about managing people and negotiating deals—both helpful for pastors who want to operate at peak efficiency—and interesting stories, like the following one about dealing with people in authority.

As McCormack drove a carful of tennis people from Italy to Switzerland, they approached a border checkpoint. When he discovered that one of his passengers had an expired passport, he said to the other people in the car: “I don’t know how to deal with this situation. Should I barge through or beg?” 

He told the border guard what the situation was, hoping for mercy. The guard let them through.

“People in authority, high or low, like you to recognize their clout. If you do and give them a chance to demonstrate it, they almost always will do so in your favour,” McCormack wrote.

Why pastors should read “The 110% Solution

It’s full of practical wisdom for any leader or manager.

The big takeaway

McCormack offered a lot of interesting tips on time management in the book. When he had to schedule a day of meetings, he made each one progressively shorter because people became fatigued. He resisted scheduling meetings on the hour or half-hour, believing a lot of time was wasted that way. And he offered this advice on starting your workday:

“The real first job of the morning – and the one that should keep you most alert – is to put all the jobs in order. Every day should be different. As soon as you fall into a rigid, habitual pattern, you are no longer operating at peak efficiency. . . . Ninety-nine percent of the time, you’re best off if you attend first to the task you dread.”

A dreaded task can poison your mood, but once it’s completed successfully, it will lift your spirits.

In their own words

  • “Almost any decision that can be slowed down should be slowed down. Fight like mad against the impulse to rush a decision.”
  • “The difference is subtle but loving to win and hating to lose are not the same. One is driven by joy. The other is inspired by fear.”
  • “Don’t be distracted by what others do – unless you can use it to inspire you.”