Little Things Mean A Lot

What’s the next big idea? We are constantly looking for big ideas to solve problems (especially things like climate change, lifestyle etc) and increase productivity, but little things mean a lot. The power of compounding is too often ignored in favour of quick high-profile fixes.

In his book Essentialism Greg McKeown talks about the idea of getting 1% better every day and at the end of a year you will have improved by 37 times. This is very impressive.

Instead of 1% per day, how about 1% per month? Take a typical New Year’s resolution – to lose weight. If your aim is to lose 10% of your current weight and you weigh 200lbs at the moment, then getting down to 180lbs is a big deal. But losing just 1% every month sounds really achievable. After all, on average you just need to lose 2lbs per month. Little Things Mean A Lot or put another way 1oz on the first day. Now the target seems so much more achievable. Let’s try 1% per month. At the end of one year, you would be down to 177.5lbs. Obviously you can’t keep this up forever or you would disappear, but you get the idea. A little every day is so much easier than aiming for a lot.

Unfortunately, the 1% rule works both ways. Put on weight at just 1% per month and the same 200lb person will be 225lbs at the end of the year!!!!!

Small continuous improvements are the Kaizen approach, and we should use it more often. The problem is that we come up with big ideas and big plans which rarely come to fruition. We begin filled with enthusiasm and if we are not carful life overtakes us. A clear objective and small steps are the way ahead.

It’s the same thing when you have been on a training course. You finish the course full of optimism and enthusiasm only to discover that when you get into the office or wherever the next day the normal daily grind overtakes you. Part of every course should be a plan to slowly introduce what you have gained from it. 1% improvement from a course every week will make a huge difference by the end of the year but trying to implement everything at once nearly always leads to disappointment and failure.

Even really big projects like implementing business change or combating climate change are much more likely to be effective when baby steps are employed. I am currently looking at the 12 week year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington as a way of helping to implement change and achieve objectives and will report back in future blogs.

In the meantime, sort out your objective and remember, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step or whatever analogy you wish to use. Set the objective and move toward it in small, manageable, incremental steps. You won’t get any medals as you won’t be seen as the “big ideas person” but you will be the effective one who actually gets things done.

1% better today – you know it makes sense.

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