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How does 1% make a huge difference?

Table of Contents

At PERIPHERALVISION, one thing that we are privileged to do is hang out and work closely with a variety of elite performers from all walks of life – business – sport – the arts… you name it. One story shared by our – Recovery /Movement performance coach – Victor Popov – detailed insights and the foundation role he played within Team Sky – an elite cycling team – back when they were first forming. The team have a distinct philosophy introduced by Dave Bailsford – the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ – that is:

… look to improve everything that we do by 1% and we will discover remarkable gains.

Initially they started by optimising the usual things: the nutrition of their riders, weekly training program structure, the ergonomics of the bike etc. More recently – the team have been focusing their attention on the things perhaps most would not expect – like understanding which pillow and mattress would enable each rider to maximise their recovery and sleep while on the tour. [ Yes – someone on the team actually has the job to go ahead to the next hotel – rip out the beds etc and replace them with what is best for each athlete. ] Taking it even further – they reviewed the cleanliness and air quality in each hotel and specifically adapted the environments to reduce illness and infection that would and can significantly reduce human performance – and – consequently team performance. Even down to the gel the physio would use for massages – what was the optimum – that is the one we will choose to use. Everything – 1% better – and the compounding affects over time have written Team Sky and their riders into the one of the most successful teams on the planet – well before they imagined they themselves – could do so.

Remember, improving by just 1 percent isn’t particularly notable – and – sometimes it isn’t even noticeable. This is a long game – testing your character and in particular, your work ethic, focus, discipline and perseverance. Of course this pattern works the same way in reverse – an aggregation of marginal losses. So – If you find yourself stuck with bad habits or poor results, it’s usually not because something happened overnight. It’s the sum of many small choices — a 1 percent decline here and there — that eventually leads to a problem.

A serious test for the sustainable high performing mindset is that gains/loses do not come – or – are not always seen immediately. Small improvements [ or declines ] compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don’t. Small choices – seemingly – don’t make much of a difference at the time – yet seriously add up over the long-game.

“The challenge is to always improve, to always get better, even when you are the best. Especially when you are the best.”
– The All Blacks

How can executives apply The One Percent concept?
Just about everything that we do – is the result of a decision that we have made to a particular question.
.01 Start with the questions that you ask yourself – always be looking for the one percent edge to accumulate. For example – recently we posted an article on “How to Stick with your goals this year”. Most executive coaches will ask their clients something like – “So what does success look like for you?” Fair question but it doesn’t quite have ‘an edge’ to it. If you understand that big hairy goals will always require hard work and sacrifice…

Reframe your questions for a 1% Edge:
” So… how much pain/sacrifice are you prepared to endure this year in order to reach your dream?”

Most people want to be at ‘the top’ or have really ‘high ambitions’ – but almost as many do not actually commit the focus of their attention, emotional energy and the small daily decisions to actually execute the work that will drive them toward the desired goal. The reality is – we each live in a world of small daily 1% decisions – and – many have a perceived pain and sacrifice attached to them. Yet – if we exercise the character and strength of mindset to endure the short term tension – we can reap the performance benefit – the compound effect – over time.

Restructure your Nutrition for a 1% Edge:
“What do I need to eat today so that I can maximise my focus and emotional control for my most important events?”

If you want your brain to perform at its best – then you will need to deliberately engineer a steady blood glucose for your body. A busy schedule is no excuse for poor nutrition habits. Poor habits are the either the function of a lack of knowledge or a low discipline of character to stick with the habits that promote maximuim performance. Prepare:
_ what does your schedule look like?
_ where can/will you create space for strategic breaks – or – mini breaks?
_ what performance snacks will be easy to carry given your location? [ balance of protein/fat/complex carbs ]
_ will there be a fridge available to utilise?
Examples to look for: almonds/walnuts/yogurt/fruit/dried fruit/water bottle/veggie sticks & hummus.

Move more for a 1% Edge:

The body is built to move – even on tough days – and the brain is built to save energy. So if we are locked in back to back meetings all day… our brain will shut off. Planning and organising ‘movement snacks’ – mini movement breaks is essential to igniting the brain and sharpening our focus for ideas and decision making. Think about this a little – if you are energised – your decisions come a little easier – that automatically lifts your mood and confidence… then the whole nervous system is productively impacted and has a compounding affect on performance. Examples to try: take a short walk or a walk & talk with a colleague / take the stairs / 5-10 breathing squats / balance with single leg stance / bounce / place a tennis ball under one foot.

Breathe for a 1% Edge:

Being under constant performance pressure in the modern business world can unproductively impact one’s mood – and therefore – your big decsions for the day and the many others around you. Breathing is scientifically proven to alter the emotional state. Consciously altering your breathing – even for just 60 seconds – can help you find the +1% that you are looking for. Examples to try: Equal breathing / Ratio breathing – lengthen inhalation to stimulate focus – or – lengthen exhalation to relax a little.

“Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”
– Jim Rohn

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts.
// Regards
Glen Fisher