Getting from where you are to where you want to be is not simple. Goals always have multiple facets. In fact, goals can be so complex that the challenge of achieving any goal can seem overwhelming and unobtainable.

But they’re not.

Goals are achievable.

Achieving a goal requires a person to start somewhere. And where you start is a very important consideration.

So where to start?

My current goal pursuit, the attainment of MovNat Cert III, means that I have to (at a minimum) run a long way quickly, squat on one leg, carry large amounts of weight over distance and have feet tough enough to do all of this without my shoes!

And that’s the short list!

In achieving this goal I’ve cryptically suggested that the best place to start is EVERYWHERE! All at once. Now I know that this idea might seem counter-intuitive but trust me. It works! And it’s necessary.

Starting EVERYWHERE takes planning. The planning will take time. And the pursuit of your goal will demand your full attention. Of course it will. That’s why the achievement of any goal is celebrated. Not because it was easy, but because it was the result of effort.

What do I mean by starting everywhere?

 

Enter, Dave Brailsford!

Dave Brailsford had an interesting job in 2010: General Manager of Team Sky, Great Britain’s professional cycling team. 

Prior to Dave’s stewardship of the team no British cyclist had ever one the Tour de France. So you might think that this history would mean that Dave’s job carried no high expectations.

That might be true except Dave believed in something novel. Something that he called the “aggregation of marginal gains.” According to Dave, if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to a remarkable improvement.

“A 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” Says, Dave!

One question you might ask is this, “What ‘relates’ to cycling?” If that was your question, then it was a very good one.

Here’s a few things that made Dave’s list of ‘everything’: nutrition of the riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, the weight of the tires. These things seem completely normal and appropriate. No surprises really.

But Dave’s search for 1 percent improvements did not stop with the obvious. Other things that made the list included the following: finding the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it on tour, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. And on and on and on!

The search for 1 percent improvements had no limits. EVERYTHING was relevant. If it could be improved, it as on the list.

It was Dave’s firm belief that if the staff and the riders could successfully execute his 1 percent strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years time.

They won it in three!

In 2012, Team Sky rider Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France.

At the 2012 Olympic Games Dave headed the cycling team and the UK dominated the competition; winning 70 percent of the gold medals available.

The success of Great Britain’s cycling team under Dave’s 1 percent guidance prompted many  commenters, historians and critics to assert that the British cycling feats in the Olympics and the Tour de France over the past 10 years have been the most successful in modern cycling history.

So now that I have your attention. What’s with the Aggregation of Marginal Gains?

 

The Aggregation of Marginal Gains

First, the theory of Marginal Gains is not confined to cycling.

Losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal. All of these objectives are relevant to the theory of Marginal Gains.

Second, your progress using this theory is not immediately noticeable. Making choices that strive to be 1% better (at something … anything) than you were yesterday might not impact you very much on any given day. But as time goes on ALL small improvements compound.

In my experience, the revelatory thing about Marginal Gains is that at some point along the journey you feel as though you’ve arrived! And when you do arrive (and you will) the world around feels very different. It’s the same. But different. Better! And you suddenly realise that you’ve made progress! Curiously, you’re not quite sure what the ‘one thing’* you did was that lead you to this progressive moment was, but there you are. Remarkable!

 * It was never one thing!

In my lead up to MovNat III, I’ve chosen to use the philosophy and practice of Marginal Gains.

How this works in my practice is a tale I’m happy to share with you dear readers.

Next week? What is the ‘everything’ that goes into a MovNat Cert III preparation? Here’s a few things on my ‘everything’ list: sleep, mindfulness, cold therapy, food and a whole lot more.

Damien Norris is the founder and senior whole-body movement and lifestyle coach at The Wilding Project (LINK), Perth Western Australia.

Recently featured in TEDxPerth (LINK), Damien teaches children, young people, adults and seniors how to move and live a full life!

Olympic Fun & Fitness and The Wilding Project like Rewilding is dedicated to a movement rich life. Programs like Gymnastics, GymFIT, FootyEDGE, Parkour, Workplace Athletes, ActiveAgers and more all follow a simple philosophy, “Learn to move well and then never stop.”

Damien Norris