The Surprising Power of Aiming a Little Lower at Work

Incorporating the 85% rule into your workplace isn't just about changing a number on a performance sheet. It's about embracing a new philosophy of work, one that values sustainability, well-being, and holistic growth.

September 1, 2023
Nitesh Padghan

In today's fast-paced corporate world, the spotlight often shines on one metric: productivity. We're often lauded for our capacity to churn out work, with the mythical 100% productivity level dangling in front of us like a golden carrot. 

But let's pause and rethink. What if, in this relentless quest for absolute perfection, we're missing the mark? What if the real secret to a productive and balanced work-life isn't in pushing ourselves to the absolute brink, but in aiming for a more sustainable 85%? 

This might sound counterintuitive in a world obsessed with maxing out potential, but diving deeper, we might just find that this 85% approach is the missing piece in our modern work puzzle.

The Trap of 100% Productivity

The allure of 100% productivity is strong. We're conditioned to believe that it’s the gold standard of efficiency. Yet, diving deep, we find it's more of a trap.

Employees pushing relentlessly for this elusive 100% often find themselves on the brink of exhaustion. Imagine running a marathon at sprint speed - unsustainable and unhealthy. The cost? Burnouts, decreased mental well-being, and ironically, a dip in true productivity.

Take Sarah, a graphic designer at a top-tier firm. Chasing perfection, she worked late nights, skipped meals, and even sacrificed weekends. But her relentless chase led to chronic fatigue and, eventually, a two-month medical leave.

The Sweet Spot

Enter the game-changing perspective of business author Greg McKeown. He suggests 85% as the sweet spot of productivity. It’s not about doing less but doing sustainably.

At 85%, employees can maintain consistency, quality, and enthusiasm without burning the candle at both ends. It encourages a culture where work is essential, but so is well-being. It’s about giving your best, most days, without the overwhelming pressure of perfection.

The Science Behind 85%

When we talk about productivity, it's often cloaked in terms of output and deadlines. But there's a whole layer of science, both psychological and physiological, that underpins our capacity to work effectively. Let's dissect this.

The Physiology

Firstly, let's address the body. Steve Magness, an exercise physiologist, sheds light on the concept of "overtraining" in athletes. Just as athletes can't constantly push their bodies to the max without risking injury, employees can't constantly push their minds to the brink without detrimental effects. 

Our brains, like muscles, require periods of rest to recover and regenerate. When we consistently operate at 100%, we're essentially in a state of chronic "mental overtraining", which can lead to burnout, decreased cognitive function, and even mental health issues.

The Psychological Perspective

Now, on to the psychology of it. Aiming for 100% productivity can inadvertently set us up for a binary perspective: perfection or failure. This doesn't leave room for the gray areas of learning, growth, and innovation, which often happen when we're allowed to make mistakes and iterate. 

Psychologists have long championed the importance of a growth mindset, where challenges are seen as opportunities to learn rather than as threats. By setting a productivity goal of 85%, we mentally allow ourselves that buffer to experiment, fail, learn, and ultimately grow.

The Neuroscience Angle

Lastly, neuroscience offers another perspective. Our brain operates in cycles, with periods of high alertness followed by periods of rest. These are called ultradian rhythms. 

Typically, after 90 minutes of intensive work, our brain signals a need for a 20-minute break. Pushing beyond this natural cycle by aiming for constant 100% productivity can lead to diminishing returns in focus and output.

How to Implement the 85% Rule in Your Workplace

Incorporating the 85% rule into your workplace isn't just about changing a number on a performance sheet. It's about embracing a new philosophy of work, one that values sustainability, well-being, and holistic growth. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make this shift:

1. Begin with Awareness

Before diving into changes, initiate a dialogue. Host workshops or seminars that shed light on the science and philosophy behind the 85% rule. Employees are more likely to embrace a change when they understand its rationale and potential benefits.

2. Set Realistic, Compassionate Goals

Rethink target setting. While it's essential to maintain ambition, ensure that your goals are both challenging and achievable. Instead of pushing teams to their limits every single time, offer them a spectrum of targets that prioritize quality over sheer quantity.

3. Foster a Culture of Well-being

Move away from the "all work and no play" mindset. Introduce wellness programs that cater to both physical and mental health. This could range from meditation sessions, and ergonomic workshops, to even short breaks for relaxation. Remember, a well-rested employee is a more productive one.

4. Promote Open Communication

Create safe spaces for employees to voice their concerns, share their experiences, and offer feedback. Whether through regular check-ins, town hall meetings, or anonymous feedback systems, ensure that there's a two-way communication channel.

5. Rethink Assessment Metrics

Shift the focus from purely quantitative outputs to more qualitative ones. This might mean valuing creativity, innovation, teamwork, and problem-solving skills as much as, if not more than, sheer output.

In a world that often glorifies the hustle, the 85% rule offers a refreshing, sustainable, and, ironically, more productive alternative. Implementing it requires intention, effort, and a genuine commitment to the well-being of your team. But the rewards, both in terms of output and employee happiness, make it well worth the effort.


The quest for 100% productivity is a mirage. It promises an oasis but often leads to a desert of burnout and dissatisfaction. On the other hand, 85% is not just a number but a philosophy - one that champions sustainable effort, well-being, and a holistic approach to work.

Companies and employees alike stand to benefit immensely. It's high time we redefine success, not by the relentless grind but by the balanced, joyful, and sustainable journey. So, here's a challenge: Aim for 85% and watch both happiness and productivity soar.

Emotional Wellness

The Mindful Journey: Exploring the Art of Meditation

November 4, 2022
The Wellness Tribe Team

You are here means you are ready to embark on this journey. The best way of experiencing meditation is actually to do it, not just talk about it. Meditation isn't always easy; some days, it's going to feel easy, while others might feel hard. But, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, you just need to stay with it every time. 

Your emotional wellbeing and overall health can benefit from meditation. It can bring you calm, peace, and balance. As a relaxation tool, you can refocus your attention on something calming when you're stressed. Mediation can also help you stay centred and find inner peace. Meditation might help you find the perfect work life balance if you work continuously. 

The most important thing is that you set yourself up in a place where you will be comfortable. You can either lie down or sit up. You definitely don't have to be sitting cross-legged on the floor. 

Let's Begin

The Mindful Journey: Exploring the Art of Meditation
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

We're going to open our eyes and keep their gaze soft, just aware of the space around us. Now that you have your eyes softly focused, take a few deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe in, notice how the lungs fill with air, and the body expands.

As you exhale, notice that your body softens. Inhale through your nose one more time. And this time, as you breathe out through the mouth, if you'd like to, just gently close the eyes. Let's just enjoy and appreciate the feeling that we've stopped and have nothing to do, nowhere to go.

Take a Moment to Feel Changes in Your Body

Notice the feeling of weight—the weight of the body pressing down against the seat or the floor beneath you. And take a moment as well just to notice your surroundings without looking around, just noticing the different sounds, not trying to shut them out. 

And use this opportunity as well just to notice how the body feels. We rarely pay attention to how our bodies feel. So is there a feeling of heaviness or lightness in the body? Is there a feeling of restlessness?

And as you bring your attention to the body, just starting to become more aware of that feeling, that movement of breath in the body. So, therefore, there is no need to breathe in any particular way.

Just allow the body to do its own thing. Some people feel the movement of breath in their chest, their shoulders. For some, it's in the diaphragm, and for some, it's in the stomach. Put your hand gently on your belly to feel that rising and falling sensation. Because you can't feel anything, you can't feel any movement.

"Meditation is not a way of making your mind peaceful. It is a way of seeing the peace that is already there." - Vimala Thakar

Put an End to Your Wanderings

The Mindful Journey: Exploring the Art of Meditation
Photo by Jens Johnsson

Again, thoughts are going to pop into your mind. The mind's going to wander. Just notice when the mind's wandered off, and just gently come back to the breath. To begin with, we're just noticing the breath in a very general way and perhaps starting to notice whether the breaths are long or short, deep or shallow. And we might find ourselves thinking either about the exercise or other things, just realising when that's happened, let those thoughts go, and come back to the breath again.

The body knows how to breathe—not getting involved in any thinking, just allowing the thoughts to come and go. If you notice your mind has wandered and you want to bring it back to the breath, gently bring it back.

So we'll stay with that feeling, a rising and falling sensation, for a few moments longer. And then, just for a moment now, let go of any focus, even of the breath now, and for a few seconds, let your mind wander.

Put Your Mind at Ease

The Mindful Journey: Exploring the Art of Meditation
Photo by Cup of  Couple

So your mind’s been wanting to think, you can let it think now. Just allow it to do whatever it wants to do. And now, just gently bring the attention back to the body. Just coming back now to that feeling of weight, that feeling of contact against the seat or the floor beneath you.

Perhaps noticing the sounds around you again. And whenever you feel ready, you can just gently open your eyes again. But before you move, just take a moment to notice how you feel in your mind body soul. The more often we do this after meditation, the more we're reminded of how much we need to pause in our life to take this time out for ourselves.

One Final Piece of Advice

If you can resist any temptation to analyse what's happened, the benefits, or anything else, just know that taking the time it's making a difference. But remember, before you get up, just remind yourself to take this satisfaction and sense of well-being with you into your life.

It is important to take time out, be still, and be silent to live a happy healthy life. And there are real benefits to that, but what really makes meditation valuable is how it influences our everyday life, relationships, and experiences.


The Key to a Happy Workplace through Trauma-Informed Leadership

May 9, 2023
Disha Shah

In the bustling and dynamic Indian work landscape, it is of paramount importance for leaders to be cognizant of and address the impact of trauma on their teams. Trauma refers to a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that leaves an indelible mark on an individual's emotional and psychological well-being. 

These experiences can range from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to incidents of abuse, violence, or even natural disasters. As India is a melting pot of diverse backgrounds and experiences, acknowledging the potential impact of trauma on employees is vital to fostering a supportive and resilient workplace.

The Need for Trauma-Informed Leadership

Trauma can affect employees in numerous ways, including reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and impaired cognitive functioning. Therefore, leaders must recognize these effects and adopt an empathetic and understanding approach when interacting with their teams. 

By nurturing a culture that is sensitive to trauma and its effects, leaders can establish a supportive and resilient workplace that enhances well-being and productivity.

Adopting a Trauma-Informed Leadership Approach

Trauma-informed leadership is a forward-thinking strategy that acknowledges the pervasive impact of trauma and integrates this understanding into an organization's policies, procedures, and practices. It goes beyond merely recognizing trauma, focusing on creating a safe and supportive work environment for all employees. This approach aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Realize the far-reaching consequences of trauma and explore potential paths for recovery.
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in employees, their families, and other stakeholders.
  • Respond proactively by incorporating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices.
  • Resist re-traumatization by actively preventing situations that could trigger past traumas.

Creating a Trauma-Responsive Work Environment in India

Establishing a trauma-responsive work environment requires the implementation of several strategies, such as:

  • Foster a supportive atmosphere: Encourage open communication and create opportunities for employees to share their concerns and experiences in a non-judgmental setting.
  • Provide training: Educate managers and employees about the impact of trauma, signs of trauma, and coping strategies. This could involve organizing workshops or inviting experts to conduct training sessions.
  • Establish clear policies: Develop and implement clear policies that address the needs of employees affected by trauma, such as flexible working hours, modified workloads, or mental health days.

Incorporating Trauma-Responsive Strategies in the Indian Workplace

To establish a trauma-responsive work environment, Indian leaders can:

  • Treat employees as individuals with unique experiences and needs rather than just as job titles. Recognize that each employee's journey is different and requires tailored support.
  • Assess and adjust workloads and expectations to alleviate toxic stress. Review employees' tasks and goals to ensure they are realistic and achievable, considering their unique circumstances.
  • Examine the language used within the organization to ensure it is supportive and sensitive to trauma. Encourage respectful communication and discourage harmful or stigmatizing language.
  • Reevaluate policies, such as paid leave, to accommodate employees dealing with trauma. Update and adapt policies to be more inclusive and supportive of employees' mental health and well-being.

Nurturing a Culture of Validation and Support

Successful trauma-responsive leadership involves fostering a culture that validates and supports employees through:

  • Patience: Recognizing that trauma can impede an individual's ability to think, behave, and manage emotions. Provide employees with the time and space they need to process and heal from their experiences.
  • Compassion: Acknowledging the weight of responsibilities and pressures that employees may be carrying and offering understanding and support. Encourage a culture of empathy where employees feel comfortable sharing their concerns and emotions.
  • Forgiveness: Being mindful that people's reactions may be triggered by past traumas and not a reflection of their feelings towards their colleagues. Promote a culture of forgiveness and understanding to create a positive and supportive work environment.
  • Empathy: Encouraging employees to put themselves in each other's shoes and validate one another's emotions. Recognize that everyone faces feelings of inadequacy, invisibility, or insecurity at times, and strive to create a culture where employees feel seen, heard, and valued.

Implementing Effective Communication Strategies

To facilitate trauma-responsive communication in the workplace, consider the following guidelines:

  • See: Make a conscious effort to understand and appreciate each other's perspectives and experiences.
  • Listen: Encourage active listening and create a space where employees can express themselves without interruption or judgment.
  • Speak: Foster a culture of kindness and respectful communication, and discourage any harmful or derogatory language.
  • Notice: Be attentive to the subtle cues and signals that employees may use to seek connection, affirmation, or attention.

Addressing the Unique Challenges Faced by Indian Employees

In the Indian context, it is essential to be sensitive to the unique challenges and stressors faced by employees, including cultural, historical, and gender-related issues. This could involve:

  • Addressing implicit bias and systemic oppression: Be mindful of the impact of discrimination, prejudice, and bias on marginalized communities, and actively work to create a more inclusive and equitable work environment.
  • Promoting cultural sensitivity: Encourage awareness and understanding of the diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of employees, and strive to create a respectful and inclusive workplace of all cultures.
  • Supporting gender equality: Advocate for gender equality in the workplace by addressing pay, opportunities, and representation disparities. Foster an environment that empowers and supports employees, regardless of their gender.

Building a Happier, Healthier, and More Productive Workplace

Incorporating trauma-responsive leadership in the Indian workplace is vital for promoting employees' well-being, resilience, and productivity. By acknowledging the prevalence and impact of trauma, leaders can create a supportive and inclusive work environment where employees feel valued and understood.

By nurturing a culture of patience, compassion, forgiveness, and empathy, Indian leaders can pave the way for a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace. Ultimately, embracing trauma-responsive leadership benefits employees and contributes to the organization's overall success and growth.

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