I recently learned of a book that just might change my life! It’s called Atomic Habits by James Clear. The gist of the book is that it is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Here’s some math: if you can get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero.
The Aggregation of Marginal Gains
In 2003, the British Cycling Organization hired David Brailsford to put British cycling back on the map. The last gold medal they had won was in 1908 and in 110 years no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France. Brailsford didn’t come in and redesign racing, his strategy was “the aggregation of marginal gains” which is the philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do. He broke down everything in riding and sought to improve it by 1%. When you add up these 9 things you get a significant increase.
- Redesigned bike seat – more comfort.
- Rubbed alcohol on the tires – gave them better grip.
- Riders wore electrically heated overshorts – to maintain ideal muscle temperature while riding.
- Had the riders wear biofeedback sensors – determined which workouts riders responded to best.
- Tested various fabrics in a wind tunnel and switched to indoor racing suits – they were lighter, more aerodynamic.
- Tested massage gel – adapted the brand that led to fastest muscle recovery.
- Hired a surgeon to teach best hand washing – reduced chances of catching a cold.
- Determined best pillow and mattress – led to a better night’s sleep.
- Painted the inside of the team truck white – which enabled them to spot dust that could degrade the performance of the finely tuned bikes.
Results: From 2008 – 2017 British cyclists won 178 world championships and 61 Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and captured five Tour de France victories!
Critical lesson: Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick to them. We all deal with setbacks, but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits. With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.
Challenge for you: 1) Decide the type of person you want to be. If you want to be kinder at work, find little things you can do each day. Make eye contact with those you pass and smile. Greet someone you know by name. Send a positive email or text of gratitude to begin each day. 2) Prove it to yourself with small wins. If you’d like to discuss individual improvement and team processes that could lead to better results I can help! Feel welcome to reach out to me for assistance.
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