Blog Posts

The Law of Marginal Gains

Posted 05.04.17 by

Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
—Jim Rohn
The idea behind the law of marginal gains is simple.  It is governed around the premise of getting 1% better in all areas that relate to your long term success each day.  So, why is it so hard to get only 1% better each day?
We live in a day and age of instant gratification.  Especially with the rise of social media and how everything in the present is at our finger tips as well as the perception of what people what them to believe is true.  That is what makes this principle so hard to grasp for man.  It revolves around the fact that these gains are not seen in a day, or a week, or sometimes not even in a month.
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.
In 2012, Team Sky rider Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. That same year, Brailsford coached the British cycling team at the 2012 Olympic Games and dominated the competition by winning 70 percent of the gold medals available.
In 2013, Team Sky repeated their feat by winning the Tour de France again, this time with rider Chris Froome. Many have referred to the British cycling feats in the Olympics and the Tour de France over the past 10 years as the most successful run in modern cycling history.
The idea with this is that there is no one defining moment that you can put your finger on as the deciding factor.  This is about all the little things that lead to a GREAT thing in a year or more.
So, when you set out on a new goal, focus on the daily little task that are needed to achieve this goal and then achieve these daily task’s each day.  Do not focus on the instant gratification, focus just on the smaller task that will lead to a sustained, habit forming change.
coach Jay