INCREMENTAL CHANGE – The value of recognising the importance of many small, gradual changes instead of focusing on a few, large rapid changes.
This can be applied to anything that you wish to progress in, so it relates to all of us. A business owner trying to improve their sales; a sportsman trying to increase their performance; a musician improving their timing or are you looking to progress within your job? It seems we could all profit from incremental changes but why do we ignore small changes so often?
Something that is a concern to most of us is our physique. I’m sure that many of us at one point have been in search of that ‘Magic weight loss pill’. Take one a day and like magic (without the effort) we lose 2 stone, amazing! Let’s be honest, we all know that exercise and healthy eating is the only true way to lose the pounds and more importantly, keep them off, but what does that require? Incremental changes, small changes such as choosing that bowl of fruit over sugar filled cereals, attending that guided gym session instead of drinks with friends, choosing a brisk walk to the station over jumping into an Uber or getting a lift. These small changes individually may not have much effect, but put them together and continue it and there is no way you CAN’T lose that weight and reach your goal, but why don’t we do it? It seems that we have become conditioned to believe that only big changes can lead to big results. This is NOT always the case. Just think, how long did it take you to put on those extra pound? It will probably take just as long to shed them.
Let’s take going to work. We all have to do it and majority of us seem to hate it. Waking up at the crack of dawn, the long commute and then having to put on a huge fake smile and pretend we love the job and the people we work with. Spend most of the morning catching up with yesterday’s unfinished work, late morning is filled with a combination of moaning to colleges about the new manager, surfing through social media and glancing at the clock every 20 minutes to make sure that 20 minutes have actually passed, then its lunch, YAY! Half way through the day, back to work after exactly an hour (often a few minutes over but NEVER a minute early). Clock watch until 5.30pm and ZOOM out of that place with the most energy you have used all day! (Deep Breath) 8 hour acting performance , which by the way deserves an Oscar, is finally over and we can now carry on our ‘normal lives’, until 6am when it all starts again. Sound familiar?
Steal 15 minutes…it’s well worth it
Why not make small simple incremental changes in your daily routine that could have a huge effect on the outcome of the rest of your day? For example, start your day 15 minutes earlier, this gives you enough time to have a peaceful breakfast, read the paper or a good book or listen to the radio, or better still use the 15 minutes to start learning something new, a new language or that musical instrument you always wished you had learnt, or some meditation. Starting the day this positive way can bring substantial benefits, throughout your day. Work is a necessity but it doesn’t have to be as painful as we make it. Invest 15 minutes in yourself, a selfish 15 minutes that would have otherwise slept away but instead you did something beneficial for YOURSELF. Its only 15 minutes out of an unselfish 1440 minutes (24 hours) and over the year contributes to over 91 hours of learning, self development, relaxation and a little ‘me-time’.
Being jobless would be a hell of a lot worse….
Another small change we can make is going to work with a sense of purpose and gratefulness for the role we are in and what benefits that roles gives us. The role or money may not be perfect, but life would definitely be a lot worse without it. What does that job opportunity give you? Money to put a roof over your head, to buy enough food to feed yourself and others, paid holidays, money to buy gifts and take your family to dinner, money to have a mobile phone, computers, heating and hot water for a nice shower, that nice car you drive, maternity/paternity pay, great friends who understand us, skills we may never have learnt, contacts we may never have made, the list goes on and on and on. When we look at our job for its benefit to our lives rather that the inconvenience it causes, we start to develop an appreciation for the opportunity we have been given, thanks to our employers, managers and co-workers. Suddenly, work isn’t so bad after all.
Owners, Bosses and Management too…
It’s not just employees, employers can also do the same, a small change in the way you perceive your staff and customers can have profoundly incremental effects on the business and can lead to a happier workforce, better quality employees and ultimately better overall performance from the business. It only takes a small change, a change in mindset which starts simply by believing staff are assets to your business rather than liability that costs the business money, if they aren’t an asset you have hired the wrong staff. A small change in the business culture can be amazingly beneficial to the business as a whole and instrumental in its future, we all know that if we treat our staff well they will treat our customers well, so train them, invest in them, teach them, praise them and above all, value them, they are your most important asset.
Professional sports personalities understand the benefits of incremental change better than most of us. Whilst we all hope that a 1 hour training session , once a week will make us the next Cristiano Ronaldo, that just isn’t the case. All too often we become disheartened with our progress, we more often than not slow down or even quit.
Professionals have an altogether different problem. Training and practicing incredibly hard for so long, they eventually reach their physical and mental peak, where their visible improvement begins to slow down and it becomes difficult to run that little faster, jump that little higher or react that split second quicker. The routine practice becomes mostly for maintenance rather than improvement and it can become increasingly frustrating for the individual.
At this point, incremental changes become more important than ever. The actions the professionals take when they reach this peak determines whether they just continue being good or go on to become GREAT! Steps such as choosing to work on their mental conditioning as well as their physical or developing techniques to divert their mind from the pressure of the next performance or game. Understanding their bodies a little better to avoid injury and tweaking technique a fraction to give them that extra little speed or strength. Even to the extent of taking their own pillow and choosing the best mattress to sleep on, giving them the best rest and recovery. As done by the British cycling team during their amazing success in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, winning 7 out of the 10 track gold medals. These small 1% changes continue your development when it is at its most difficult and produce ‘marginal gains’, helping professionals develop from being forgotten good players, to them being remembered as GREATS!
Still don’t believe it? Why not think about the professionals below and see which ones you believe are good and which are great, then think why?
Football: – Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo
Tennis: – Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer
Cricket:- Andrew Flintoff, AB De Villiers, Sachin Tendulkar
Basketball:- Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordon
So if you are looking to make a BIG change in your life, whether you are trying to become healthier, looking to develop at work, in business, sports, music, writing, whatever it may be, start by making the INCREMENTAL CHANGES that will combine, react and ultimately develop in to HUGE results. A small change today will lead to great results tomorrow.
Remember “A journey of a thousand miles…begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
So what small change will you make today? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.
– Ketan Trivedi