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Marginal Gains - Why 1% Is All You Need to Succeed

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

When we think about high performance within academia it is often about making big changes or a significant pivot towards what and how we do things. But this often means that expectations bar is set too high from the outset and we are constant state of failing at one more thing. However, this new year i've been think about taking a different approach, let me explain...

You only need to change or do 1% of what you do better. I'm talking about the concept of marginal gains. Probably being an academic with three businesses and a kid has made me realise more than ever that I've got to err on the side of reality. There is a lot you can draw from the world of spots psychology and apply to an academic career. I was recently listening to the Diary of a CEO podcast with Steve Bartlett (episode 115 with Sir David Brailsford the former performance director of British Cycling). You need to listen to it. But the key take away that i've been thinking of ever since is this... When training at such an elite level the huge wins and the game changing results are few and far between. At this level it is all about making tiny and incremental adjustments because it's the one percent of difference that is going to help you push beyond the boundaries of what you think you can achieve.

So how does it apply to academic or your professional practice (hello to our new subscribers!) well in amongst your game-changing goals for 2022 take a look at what you are already doing. My Work Smarter* blog is all about asking you to leverage more from what you are already doing. What if you removed one meeting from your day, or cut a meeting to 5 minutes less. What if you focused 1% of your working week on curating your personal brand or spent it reaching out to new networks or existing ones to pick up the conversation. What would happen if you spent the time on your professional development? Or, why not explore something beyond the boundaries of your job description and thought bigger about your role? Where might that lead?

So rather than a suggestion this post is more of a thought for you to ponder. Where can you make those marginal gains in any aspect of your personal or professional life. Maybe that is all the difference you need?

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