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Overcoming Mental Barriers with the ‘40% Rule’

So today at Learning it, Loving it we’re exploring ‘Mental Barriers’ and one which sets entrepreneurial alarm bells ringing the most and is being bandied about by the entrepreneurial world is ‘Indifference’.

Warren Buffet summed this up in a tidy little nutshell by stating:

“Obsession is the DNA of greatness.”

What do you think of the above statement? Would you agree with entrepreneur.com which says that obsession is the hallmark of genius?

Apparently, if you aren’t obsessed with what you do, greatness / fluency / proficiency will remain your achilles heel. Having developed a deep passion (sometimes it just grows on you) for your craft (or learning English) you will keep going, even when you feel like giving up (which is what you are going to feel like on occasion – based on fact!) What we hope our students will remember is that an ability to really get to grips with a language is not genetics, it’s come hell or high water meaningful practice takes place (TV series, films – this is why we love Netflix in English) Brazilian born and with what used to be Portuguese as his first language, Teacher Leo (who now dreams in English) is a specialist, and living proof of this maxim. Whether it’s your business, your sport or a specific skill, stay obsessed. Don’t try to be great at 50 things. Keep beavering away at what can really move your life and language acquirement forward.


Idioms, Expressions & Phrasal Verbs!

Try guessing the meaning of the various idioms from the above text first and then check against the following definitions

  • achilles heel This expression refers to a vulnerable area or a weak spot, in an otherwise strong situation, that could cause one’s downfall or failure.
  • alarm bells ringing  it makes you feel worried because it is a sign that there may be a problem
  • bandied about by to pass from one to another or back and forth; give and take; trade; exchange
  • in a tidy little nutshell In a few words; concisely
  • grows on you something one would begin to like and appreciate with time
  • giving up to expect someone or something to fail
  • come hell or high water  If you say that you will do something come hell or high water, you mean that you will do it in spite of the difficulties involved.
  • get to grips with begin to deal with or understand.
  • beavering away at to work hard for a long time



Now it’s your turn. Describe how you might overcome some difficulty in your own life or even advise a friend how they might do the same using the idioms and expressions above! If your focus is on developing your speaking, record your advice into your smart phone and post us a link!

As always, we’d love to see your creations so don’t forget to post them in the comments box at the very bottom of this post!


How to Leave a Comment


So continuing on this theme of overcoming mental barriers,  (cue Bro Tears… )


Navy SEALs have a ’40 Percent Rule’ and according to them it’s the key to overcoming mental barriers and so it was for millionaire, entrepreneur and author Jesse Itzler.


Watch the video and answer the following questions:

  1. Who is ‘Seal’? (0:03)
  2. What set ‘Seal’ apart from all of the other competitors of the race? (0:12)
  3. What does it mean to ‘Cold Call’ someone? (0:55)
  4. What do you think Itzler meant when he referred to what made ‘Seal’ tick? (1:06)
  5. On that note, what does ‘rubbed off on’ mean?! (1:10)
  6. ‘Routines can be a rut’, any ideas? (1:33)
  7. What was it that made Itzler  believe that we’re capable of so much more than we believe? (2:30)
  8. How much do you actually have left in the tank when you’re mind is telling you you’ve done enough? (3:00)
  9. Would the motto ‘If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it’ resonate with you?
  10. What does ‘hitting the wall’ mean? (3:34)




  • What difficulties have you overcome in your life? physical / mental / social
  • Have you set yourself any goals this year? explain why / why not
  • What thoughts do you have on Seal’s mentality? normal / insane / inspiring

Use the cues above to try and talk continuously for 2 min (in the IELTS exam you have an activity similar to this in part 2 of the Speaking) Take 1 min to prepare your answer then give it a go! 


Record your audio answers and post a link in the comments box below – or your own transcript – another great English improving exercise!

Post Below the Listening Answers! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!!


How to Leave a Comment


Listening Answers

  1. He’s the guy who ran the 100 mile run in San Diego alone.
  2. When everyone else tan in a team of 6, he ran it on his own
  3. A cold call is when you contact someone without any prior introduction by a mutual friend / acquaintance
  4. It possibly referred to the motivation that Seal used to keep going when the pain was overpowering
  5. To be influenced by someone
  6. a rut is something that is boring and uneventful / repetitive
  7. When he was able to complete a further 100 pull ups after burning out at 16 reps
  8. 60%
  9. maybe yes / maybe no 🙂 but more importantly – why?
  10. When you ‘hit the wall’ it feels like you cannot continue. Successful marathon runners are those who ignore their own bodies and use their will power to keep going to cross the finish line


Featured Image by

Maarten van den Heuvel


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