Tomorrow is the first stage of this year’s Tour de France. A grueling bike race, that covers over 2,000 miles, climbing over 150,000 feet, at an average speed of 25 mph…all in 21 days.
In 2010 Dave Brailsford started a new job, as the new General Manager of the British Cycling team (Team Sky). No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, which some say is one of the hardest races in the world. He told his employers he could win it in 5 years.
He won in 3 years. His team also won 70% of the gold medals for cycling at the Olympics the same year. They went on the win the Tour again the next year and 3 of the following 4 years.
His approach was simple. Aggregating the marginal gains. He believed that if the team broke down everything that goes into competing on a bike and then improving each element by just 1%, they could achieve a significant aggregated increase in performance. Nothing was left out of the process. Each bike part, each part of the training plan, what the cyclists ate, and even the shape of the pillows the cyclists slept on.
The Tour de France has been plagued with doping scandals, which they hope are behind them, but as Tyler Hamilton writes in his book everyone was doping so we all had to train harder to get that edge. The work still needs to be done. Think small, not big, and adopt a philosophy of continuous improvement by looking for opportunities to make small changes across all elements of your life.
Whether your watching cycling, baseball, Netflix, or just sitting around watching the world go by, think of 1 thing every day for the next 3 weeks that you can improve by 1%. See where it takes you!