The 100/0 Principle

GiveMoreExpectLess“They were simply people whose experience taught them where true power lies.” Malcolm Gladwell.

I have very good news. One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, rediscovered his faith in Christ. He wrote What the Dog Saw, Outliers, Blink, Tipping Point and David and Goliath. I love this author because he is a true journalist and looks at the phenomena of the world without bias and prejudice. He looks for patterns and is not afraid to apply his findings from the beginning to the end. Many of his discoveries go against the ideas of society. For example, his book Outliers undermines the American definition of success. He claims it is not simply about hard work day in and day out; it is also about being born in the right place and right time. He is a superb writer and has refreshing perspectives on many subjects. Really everything and anything can be any interesting with a good writer/critical thinking.

I was touched by his return to the faith. It was while he was writing David and Goliath. The premise of the book is how David had all the disadvantages, but he still overcame Goliath. When Gladwell saw an ordinary couple doing super natural out-of-the-ordinary things, like forgiving the murderers and rapists of their daughter, it struck him. Where does this power come from? He came to the logical conclusion: supernatural power can only come from a supernatural force: God.

Recently, I read another book called, The 100/0 Principle. In this book the author explains the secret of success to every relationship. It is to take 100% of responsibility for the relationship and have 0% expectations from the other half. He shares multiple stories of times when this principle overcame icy relationships. Usually when people are treated this way they melt and change, but it is not easy. While reading it, I was persuaded by this counter intuitive approach to relationships and I want to incorporate in my life and my everyday relationships. But where does the power come from. How can I GIVE MORE AND EXPECT LESS?!

The math is lacking. There is no logic. Why should I give and give and give when others only take and take and take? I am going to run out of gas. A side note the author gave is that this principle might not work with those who lie and steal from you. He advises his readers to be wise when acting with people like that. But what about that couple from David and Goliath who forgave the murderers of their daughter? They had no expectations from the rapists. They forgave the people who deserve their love and forgiveness least of all.
Another principle the author, Al Ritter, constantly repeated is this: Our relationship is more important than who is right or wrong. The one thing that gives life meaning are relationships. Think of your favorite memories. Don’t they all involve people, those who are closest to you? What would it be like if all our relationships with those around us were healthy? It would be absolute heaven on earth.

I also like how he explains the difference between awareness and choice. I am aware of my judgmental and critical attitude towards others. But I have the choice to act according to my automatic response or to use the 100/0 principle. I thought this point was especially insightful because the 100/0 principle does not come naturally to me and it probably never will. This book has a freeing effect. It showed me that I don’t want things that happened 10 years ago to be affecting and intoxicating me now. Yes, there have been those who have harmed me, wounded, lied to and stole from me. But I want to practice this principle towards them (or do I?). I want to save the relationship, if it is redeemable. Life is too short and my sphere of influence is too small to burn bridges with anyone.

How is is even possible? I need to fill up on Jesus’ love. I know that I am the apple of his eye. I know that he is protecting me. He never allows me to go through something I cannot bear. I know that God is good all the time and that all the time God is good. I will leave room for God’s wrath. I also value my relationship with God so so so highly that I will not allow anyone or anything to get in the way of it. Recently I have begun to understand Lk 14:26. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” I love God to the point that my affection for anything else comes across as hate. It is hard to understand but out of my love for God I act kindly to those around me. Especially towards those who hurt me the most. I act cordially to them not out of a love for them, not for them at all, but only for God. They can perceive it as love and maybe it is love, but it doesn’t come from me naturally. Maybe in the future it will come naturally? Or maybe love really is a choice, as the saying goes?

I am glad that I am learning this now. Soon I will be moving to a new country (actually not a new country because it is my passport country, but I haven’t lived there for 10 years). It will be like a new beginning. I want to invest in good relationships. Another piece of good news is that one of my other favorite authors, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan (has nothing to do with the movie) is friends with Malcolm Gladwell. While reading Taleb I always wondered if he and Gladwell would get along because there would be some ideas in Taleb’s books that seemed to disagree with those of Gladwell. But they both share the courageous drive to write what others disagree with and disdain. They are not afraid to dispute the society’s pillars of thought and I admire this. Taleb talks about dealing with PhD’s and big shots of the world and how he enjoys watching them squirm and be uncomfortable. Taleb does not make assumptions about anything. He is ready to look at every topic freshly. I want to learn this. In life sometimes David does win (maybe all the time?). Goliath can huff and puff and sulk and pout, but in the end truth will be self-evident. Who will be left with their head on?

What do you think of the 100/0 principle?


  1. Thanks, MJ Peace. My spontaneous thought regarding the 100/0 principal is that it is good and right, but surely very hard to practice as a living reality.

    In the UBF context, some shepherds and missionaries serve their sheep expecting that they should be loyal to UBF for this life and the next. This has created countless problems.

    In the UBFriends context, some of us hold UBF 100% responsible to answer, respond, acknowledge evils and wrongdoing to all the charges raised against them.

    I’m not saying this is easy. I’m also not saying that it will be done. But the 100/0 principal might be useful when both hardline UBFers and hardline exUBFers apply it primarily to ourselves, since no one can truly change anyone else.

  2. Hi MJPeace and thanks for this article. I appreciate your thinking and love the fact that you are making a connection with Gladwell’s writings. I’ve heard something of this author, regarding the Outliers book, and see some wisdom in what he writes.

    You asked — “Goliath can huff and puff and sulk and pout, but in the end truth will be self-evident. Who will be left with their head on?”

    I would ask– “Do we know?” I view any and all principles with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially when a principle is presented as the de facto standard of conduct. I don’t reject absolute truth, I just question how we arrive as such truth.

    For example, the modern axim was “The early bird gets the worm”. Well is that true? No not always. The post-modern axim is also truth: “The second mouse gets the cheese.” So combining these two truth statements, I find the wisdom of “Be disciplined but adopt to changing situations.” So it is not always wise to be early. This is a fascinating lesson portrayed marvelously in the recent movie “The Croods“.

    So I don’t think the “truth” is ever self-evident. We must consider multiple perspectives and respect the unique perspective each and every human being brings to the table.

    So MJ your perspective your bring to ubfriends with this article is helpful. Surely we must all pause and consider whether we are expecting too much from other people or from an organization. Your perspective sheds some light on my perspective, but does not invalidate my perspective. And the reverse is true also. My perspective gives you some light, but in no way invalidates what you perceive.

    There are times when it is good and proper to be the Goliath. Other times it is wise to be the David. The Jesus-thing is to find when to be which so that God is glorified.

    “What do you think of the 100/0 principle?”

    I’m not a fan at the moment. Perhaps if I read the book, but based on this article, I’m skeptical. If we say “100/0″… to take 100% of responsibility for the relationship and have 0% expectations from the other half… then where does accountability fit in? Too many expectations are problematic, but so are zero expectations just as problematic. And the hidden assumption I hear is that the best thing is always a restoration of relationship. I’m not convinced that restoration of relationship is always the best thing, just as Samuel never met with Saul again yet mourned for Saul, there are times when we must part ways.

    I agree that we should be more concerned, in general, with “what” is right rather than “who” is right. But to find this elusive “what” is right, shouldn’t we gather many perspectives? We see dimly when we see together, but often we see not at all when we look by ourselves alone.

    In regard to God’s grace, surely such grace is God’s 100% one-sided love for us. But are there no expectations? Does love have no requirements? Surely love is kind and keeps no record wrongs, but does not love hold the expectation of freedom, conscience and understanding?

    How would we act if everyone started using this “100/0” principle? Wouldn’t we all be full of flattery and superficial encounters?

    • Yes, I agree with you. Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls himself a “skeptical empiricist.” I think this is a valuable way to view life, without pre-conceived ideas. I believe truth is self-evident. If people continually look for it they will find it, maybe not until they die, but they will find it. On the way, God speaks, but it is up to the person to listen; this is my view.

      As a teacher, I also know the importance of expectations. Without them students fail unecessarily. And as you say, a lack of accountability is a problem; it creates monsters. Look at the long list of totalitarian dictators in the past. The 100/0 principle is not the gospel. The author wrote the book for businesses to make more money and employers to move up the corporate ladder. But there is a degree to which it is applicable. And I believe it does help improve family and business relationships. Relationships are tricky things.

  3. “Soon I will be moving to a new country…”

    This reminds me of what we did for many years. I changed jobs 19 times, moved addresses 12 times. Each time I thought “This time I will just wipe the slate clean! This time I will start all over and get everything right!” But it always fell apart.

    Now I am leaning to just live in the muck, to love messy conversations, the awkward encounters, to work through the cringe-worthy obstacles and to run through the brushes and the briar outside the nice clean camp. And it is there, in the muck and the miar that I find the effervescent joy and surpassing glory and surpassing greatness and surpassing grace and living hope and new wine and love that the Holy Scriptures speak clearly about.

    Ironically, I found that when you reject Christianity, you find Christ.

  4. BK…I found the same thing “when you reject Christianity, you find Christ.” You meet Christ outside the camp…outside religion…out side of UBF where there are only rules and slogans not love for people and families and the whole body of Christ…it is near the dirty Ohio river where the dead fish were floating that I found the freedom in Christ…I am happy to be outside the is a amazing grace…I now understand more clearly the life of Christ…and His love for mankind….now I understand why many religious people do not know him though they do many works in His name…

  5. by the way, do not buy the 100/0 principle…another man-made idea to calm the masses and cover up spiritual abuse

    • Hey bigbear, have you read the 100/0 Principle? I haven’t. I’m not so sure we can dismiss it as “just another man-made idea”. But maybe you have some further insight into the book? Certainly the essence of the principle echoes things we’ve been saying “expect less, give more”.

  6. Bk…my wife and I read up on it…she is very familiar with the principles in Romania and is well read up on it….I think one of the things that attracted me to her is that I see this truth lived out in her heart…like anything..theories or ideas only work if one is in tune with the Holy Spirit..not sure if this is a Holy Spirit teaching…but if it makes a person have stronger relationships with family, spouses. and friends it can’t be all bad..I just don’t like to frame my life around ideas…I think it is better to follow the Holy Spirit and live each day following His desires…I am always skeptical of programs and religious do and don’t…I guess because I found what such programs can do in the framework of UBF…the rules take the place of people, relationships, and family…I have read parts of the book on the internet and my wife was helpful and explaining the principle to me…like anything…principles can be good if they are used in the right way..I prefer balance and time with friends…”expect less, give more” can be a way to self-righteousness too…I agree with the principles…but afraid again that this principles will cover up more abuses..

    • Thanks for the clarification bigbear. I agree fully.

    • Most definitely. If your husband is beating you, I do not think you should use this principle to justify staying with him. In my opinion spiritual abuse is just as bad, if not worse, than physical abuse or sexual abuse and should be punished to the same degree. The author also mentions that it doesn’t work in every case.

      One of my favorite passages of the Bible is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. There is a time/season for different actions. I agree with you that it is important to follow the Holy Spirit, not a program. Ab Lincoln supposedly said, “I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.” But I personally am trying to apply the “give more, expect less” principle in my relationships. As you said it can become a way to self-righteousness and it’s good to keep that in mind.

  7. I heard about this on the news recently: Ukraine protests.

    I am not going to pretend to understand the issues in Ukraine, but let’s pray for all Ukrainians and especially our Ukrainian friends. I am encouraged by the Orthodox priest story in this.