The following is an excerpt from an article written by James Clear. His mission is to write about the hidden forces that shape our habits and performance.
In 2010, Dave Brailsford faced a tough job.
No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team), Brailsford was asked to change that.
His approach was simple.
Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.
They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.
But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.
Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years time.
He was wrong. They won it in three years.
Whether we like it or not, our habits—good or bad—are the result of the many choices we make over time. As I read this article the thing that stood out to me most was the fact that Brailsford and his team looked to improve in tiny areas that most people wouldn’t consider. This got me to thinking, what are the tiny improvements I could make in my own life that would enhance my level of fulfillment and add to my freedom based living? I am going to make a list and get back to you. And, I think I will start with my pillow!
Where are the 1 percent improvements in your life?