Making Incremental Improvements in Unexpected Directions

I listen to a broadcast every morning by Darren Hardy, a motivational speaker & performance coach. You might enjoy his content, but be forewarned – he can come across as a bit pushy & over the top. But, he mostly delivers insightful approaches to improving whatever it is that you choose as your calling. 

He recently relayed the story of how small incremental changes can add up to huge results, and even more surprising is that where you focus your efforts may not always be in the most obvious areas. 

He told the story of how around 10 years ago the British cycling team changed their strategy on how to win. Big caveat here – I am not a cycling aficionado so don’t come to me picking apart these details. He said that the coach at the time made the audacious statement that they would win the Tour de France in 5 years. His approach to achieving that was by focusing on what he called the “1 %” items, small things that achieved in quantity would add up.

You might think that focusing on finding the lightest & best cycles, training in regions to push the cyclists, and getting the best dietary regimen would be obvious places to focus on. Rather, he looked at things like using the best hand soap to prevent the spread of colds among the team, finding the most effective massage treatment and similar tactics.

In the end, he wasn’t able to deliver on his promise to win the Tour in 5 years… they won it in 3 years! And they won it again in the following year. And their team had their best showing in the Olympics around the same time.

There are many things that we may consider to be the most tactical to focus on in order to improve, both personally & professionally. However, you may want to reconsider your approach to look at the smaller things. First, achieving these things in quantity does add up! Second, it’s much easier to get in the habit of starting & completing small items, which is a huge motivational boost.

Right now, you may be thinking about the “big” things that you or your team can do. Maybe consider the small things instead, like reaching out to one more person on LinkedIn or finding one more meetup to attend, or spending 5 more minutes at the lunch table hearing what others are inspired by.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post – I hope that it has resonated with you.