When we think about the changes we want to make in our lives, be it personal or business, we often think of the efforts required to achieve a goal as being of the superhuman variety. For example, we know that increasing our profits a certain percentage within 6 months is a really good idea, and when we think about the steps we need to implement to achieve that, we go and get out our superhero cape and extra-vision goggles and sit down and start planning. After about 15 minutes or so of jotting down ideas, we end up with a massive amount of work staring back at us that seems to resemble a giant boulder. Being human, we quietly say to ourselves, “Oh. Wow.” We put the cape and goggles back into the closet, and humbly go back to doing what we were doing before, convinced that we will never increase our profit in 6 months because, well, it’s just too hard.
Well, no, it’s not. And here’s why:
We are human, and we like to be grand. We also live in the present but so often project ourselves into the future, thinking, planning, scheming, imagining great things for our lives. The only problem with this is that the present, the only time we have to actually get stuff done, starts to slip away from us as we dream and plan away. To make the problem worse, we also understandably become overwhelmed when we look at the steps required to achieve the goals we set for ourselves and so we end up not doing anything at all. We sit and stew and feel bad and keep doing what we’ve always done, too discouraged to change a thing.
And that’s where the biggest problem lies: we become too discouraged to change a thing.
But there are different ways of approaching this dilemma, and one of them actually seems kind of, well, easy. You see, there is a theory of change that is called the Aggregation of Marginal Gains which, in spite of its somewhat forbidding name, can make the process of change much easier to start.
The idea behind this theory is that if we can make a 1% positive change in our habits every day over a year, we will start to see a significant change at the end of this period of time. The theory gained prominence when it was put into practice in 2010 by Dave Brailsford*, who was the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky, Great Britain’s professional cycling team. No British rider had ever won a Tour de France before, but Brailsford wanted to change that, and he gave the team 5 years to accomplish this goal. They ended up achieving this goal within 3 years when Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012.
How did they mange this? Brailsford and his team focussed on making 1% positive changes in all aspects of their training, from the most essential to the least important, but bit by bit, gradually, they began to see changes. The best part was, none of these changes felt overwhelming or difficult at the time because they weren’t huge.
And the same can be true for you: making small changes and keeping with them on a regular basis can reap a larger change further down the road. You just need to be consistent and stay on track, as much as possible. On the days when you get lazy or don’t quite stick to your goals, you can shake it off and get back at it the next day. A few days here and there won’t destroy anything, and that on its own is encouraging, as well as human.
Of course, the opposite is also true: the small negative habits we engage in on a daily basis, over a period of time, will eventually have a much larger impact than we realize. The opportunity here, then, becomes stopping or changing these small habits, neutralizing them, and seeing where that leads us. It can only be up!
In our next post, we will talk about some of the ways TPI can help you with the small changes necessary to create large results, and help the process of profitability become a little bit easier to manage.
(with special thanks to Brendon Gamblin, Sales Professional Extraordinaire at TPI, for suggesting this topic)
* The source for this information comes from this text: http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains