1%- The little number with a big impact.
Big things are achieved in small incremental steps. What are the “one percenters” that can help move you from where you are to where you want to be in the next 12 months?
When Total Quality Management was popular, I read somewhere that it is better to change 100 things by 1% than try to change one thing by 100%. This immediately resonated with me. The long string of failed fitness programs came first to mind, followed by a range of professional goals that often started with great-but unsustainble and unrealistic -momentum only to be crowded out by the daily grind.
As I put this into practice, I found that the one percenters are easy to incorporate. So easy in fact that you wonder if they are really helping you move toward your goal. But get that one percent action embedded into your life and go on to the next one percent and soon you find they’ll start merging and a significant goal or milestone is reached sometimes almost by surprise. I don’t aim for 100 things, I’ll aim for 5 or 6.
This is the time of year when many people aim to either stop, start or continue some things as they start a new year. It could be something you’d like to see move forward personally or perhaps in your team or your organisation. As you think about what success would look like, ask yourself ‘what would progress would look like?’ Then ask what 1% progress would look like. It is slower, but likely to be more permanent. Celebrate the 1% progress milestones. Certainly in some teams and organisations there has to be relentless pursuit of an immediate huge change to avert a crisis or achieve a mission critical goal. But for the actions that aren’t in that category, don’t dismiss the one percenters. Celebrate the progress and help others to aim for big things one incremental step at time.
I regularly find in coaching sessions, when we get to the follow up actions and we talk about what a 1% step forward would be, the response often is ‘But that is so easy, I know I can do that’. And that is the point. You can do it. You may already be doing it–sporadically. Now is the time to intentionally embed it into your life as an almost reflex response.
Remember that famous question: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
And remember..setbacks and relapses are normal. Try not to view them as ‘failures’ but as opportunities for continuous improvement. Focus on the progress you did make and how you can take the strengths from that into the ‘improvement cycle’.
What might some of your one percenters be?