Did you know it took 109 years for a British cyclist to win the Tour de France? But since 2012, a Brit has won six out of the last seven races. This mind-blowing change was thanks to Sir Dave Brailsford, a British cycling coach, who employed the “aggregation of marginal gains,” or what I like to call the 1% Approach.
A Little Goes a Long Way
The idea behind the 1% Approach is exactly what it sounds like. Don’t focus on massive improvement; instead, find small ways you can improve each day. Brailsford looked for opportunities to improve a little in every area, including training, nutrition, and bike design. He even found meaningful improvements in often overlooked areas, like better hand-washing techniques to avoid illness, or giving cyclists more comfortable pillows to improve their sleep. These changes made little improvements, and all those little improvements added up.
In addition to helping British cycling win the Tour de France, Brailsford’s 1% Approach also helped the team win big at the Olympics. The British cycling team took home eight gold medals during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, another eight in London, and six more in Rio in 2016. Prior to this, the team had never claimed more than two gold medals at a single game.
Make That 1% Count
I really like this concept and have used it in my life, in business, and in my own physical fitness. There are a lot of small changes companies can make to see big improvements in the long run. Take processes, for example. When businesses want to make changes, they often start with improving their processes. The problem is that, even if they come up with a revolutionary new plan for onboarding clients, nine times out of 10 that process gets put in a folder somewhere and forgotten about. I’ve documented a lot of processes, and what I’ve found is that most are worthless unless someone pulls
them out and uses them!
To make a 1% improvement in your business, start by putting all your processes in the software Process Street. This program takes processes and turns them into easy-to-follow checklists. Next time you have to onboard a client, the checklist is right there. And with everything laid out and easy to see, you can improve upon the process as needed. We’ve started using Process Street at the office, and, let me tell you, it’s the kind of marginal gain that really grows with time.
Biohack Your Life
It’s not just business or professional athletes that can be transformed with the 1% Approach. Your health can really benefit from even a 1% positive change. Take, for example, how Brailsford made sure his cyclists were sleeping better with new pillows. Getting better sleep can make a huge improvement on your life. Look into getting a better pillow, using a melatonin spray to help you fall asleep faster, or turning down the temperature in your room to stay asleep at night. But don’t do them all at once! Remember, these 1% changes are key here.
Use Just 1% (More) of Your Brain
Another area of your health that can lead to big benefits is your brain’s “processing power.” I’ve tried a bunch of stuff to try to help my brain, like mushroom powder and ghee butter. Nothing worked, but I kept looking for that 1% improvement. Eventually, I found Onnit’s Total Human supplements that include Alpha Brain.
These are dietary supplements that improve mental and physical performance. I started taking them a while back and, at first, couldn’t tell the difference. Then I ran out a couple of days before my next order arrived. For two days I felt totally brain dead. It was like my brain wasn’t running at full speed anymore. When I started taking them again, I felt totally better. I’m not saying Alpha Brain will work for everyone, but taking these supplements is a 1% change in my life that really makes a difference. I just had to put in the time before it showed.
The reason the 1% Approach is so effective is because it prioritizes patience and discipline over instant gratification. This method forces us to stop looking for that silver bullet and instead commit to the hard work that will actually make a difference over time. Or as Brailsford said, “Forget about perfection; focus on progression, and compound the improvement.”
Thanks for reading,
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