Marginal gains are what it’s all about

A while back saw @johnsaddington tweet about yet another book that wasn’t all the marketing hype said it would be. When I probed further he pointed me to this blog post.

The short version is that the book content didn’t ‘stick’ in his life.

John has an interesting point here about the things we keep around that we really don’t need. I’ve got the 4 Hour Work Week but do I need to keep that copy? Was it really that ‘amazing’ book? I’d have to say no, it was great for the author but I don’t think it holds up to the reality of life.

I’ve got a bunch of books that I’ve read that sit in the same category. They were not a revolutionaly change in my life but I don’t discount them.

Marginal Gains

Coming out of the black era of doping all the cycling teams are working on ‘marginal gains’. The basic premise is that if you start from the assumption that no thing is to small to check you’re going to find lots of things that increase you’re performance by 1% (or even .5%). Add them all up and we’re talking about 5% (or more) and that’s a Tour de France winner.

Team Sky has really pioneered this and you know what, they put the Tour winner together 2 years in a row with 2 different riders.

Just like a professional cycling team watches those marginal gains the books we read and interactions we have daily can add to our own marginal gains in productivity and business.

Maybe you don’t GTD all your tasks but reading the book really made you think about how you organize your task lists and that means you’re more productive. You’re not a GTD zealot and a year later you can look at the book and think that it didn’t reall matter and didn’t change your life.

The reality may be that your 1% increase in productivity from 1 tip in the book increased your bottom line by 5%.

I certainly don’t think it’s a bad idea to declutter life but discounting all those marginal gains is foolhardy. I’ll reread those books that didn’t change my life looking for that .5% more. Being just a few percent better than your contemporaries ends up with you head and shoulders above.

2 thoughts on “Marginal gains are what it’s all about

  1. I agree with your take on 4HWW.

    When I first read it, right at the start of going on my own, I thought “wow this is going to be easy.”

    I didn’t think I was going to be able to be pulling in passive income or clearing my plate like his examples — but I felt like automating would have been easier.

    So the book didn’t really “help” me in any marginal area — but it did open me up to a broader stroke of thinking along the plot.

    1. But even changing how you thought about business is a marginal gain. Looking for ways to automate will continue to bring up marginal gains.

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