Wisdom-Trek / Creating a Legacy
Welcome to Day 16 of our Wisdom-Trek and thank you for joining me.
This is Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom.
Today we look at The Aggregation of Marginal Gains.
We are recording our podcast from our studio at Home2 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and this week has been packed with work and activities. Even our evenings were busy as we had my sister over on Tuesday, a neighbor’s birthday dinner on Wednesday, and a night of worship at our church on Friday.
As we trek through life together, having a strong community both in person and online is crucial. While some downplay the concept of online communities, they can be very important and powerful in our lives. As we grow in wisdom it is important to reach out to others to both give and receive strength and encouragement.
Let us know how we can be of assistance to you as members of our Wisdom-Trek community. Please share your stories or questions with us on Wisdom-Trek.com/Contact Us, we will work them into future podcasts so that everyone on our Trek can get to know each other.
On yesterday’s trek we learned The Five Principles of Planting and Harvesting which also apply to our lives as we plant good seeds into our own lives and the lives of others. I have created a PDF of these five principles which can be found on our Free Resources page.
If you have missed any previous podcasts or journals, please go back and check them out on iTunes, Stitcher, or Wisdom-Trek.com.
As we leave the clearing of yesterday and continue upwards on our Trek, we will look at how important each small step is in the trek of life. So many times we are looking for the big changes, big results, and instant success in life. Instead of these huge breakthroughs (which usually never happen), we should focus instead on the small Aggregation of Marginal Gains.
While it is vital to know where we are heading or our destination, it is also important to know how we are going to get there. Vision and goals are important, but they will only be achieved one small step at a time. It is by connecting these small steps together that we will be able to make great strides.
So, what is the Aggregation of Marginal Gains? It means the identification of a number of areas in which you can make small gains, which all add up to something much greater.
A phrase coined by one of the finest elite sports coaches in the world, Sir Dave Brailsford, this philosophy was used by the UK cycling team to win most of the medals at the 2004 Olympics in London, and by Team Sky to win the next year’s Tour de France. British Cycling has risen from nowhere to lead the world in a relatively short space of time, building a platform for lasting success.
While most people look for a few big improvements, usually without success, a wise person will look for a lot of small, even seemingly insignificant, areas of life to take action and improve on.
Let’s take an example that most of us can relate to – maintaining a healthy weight for our height and age. While I am currently pretty close to my ideal weight and in good shape physically, that has not always been the case. I have been as much as 30 pounds heavier than I am now, but I did not lose all of the weight at once. It took the aggregation of marginal gains to reach my current weight.
I did change what I was eating some, but the biggest impact was just choosing to eat a little less than I did previously. I also started exercising on a more regular basis, but I did not start our running a 10k every morning like I do most days now. It was small incremental changes in habits over a period of months that made the difference.
It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis. Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time. And yet, how easily we forget this when we want to make a change.
So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run. And from what I can tell, this pattern works the same way in reverse (an aggregation of marginal losses, in other words). If you find yourself stuck with bad habits or poor results, it’s usually not because something happened overnight. It’s the sum of many small choices — a 1 percent decline here and there — that eventually leads to a problem.
In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. (In other words, it won’t impact you very much today.) But as time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don’t. This is why small choices, like “I’ll take a burger and fries,” don’t make much of a difference at the time but add up over the long-term.
Let’s go back to the weight loss example. As we are on our Trek are you finding it difficult to keep up due to carrying a few extra pounds that have accumulated over the past few years? How can Aggregation of Marginal Gains impact this situation? If you are currently consuming 4,000 calories per day and your daily recommended calorie intake should be 2,000 calories in order to lose the weight needed, would it be possible to consume 40 less calories tomorrow? That is only 3 oz. of soft drink, 1/3 oz. of potato chips, or 1 small cookie. If each day you can add that same amount to the previous day’s reduction, in less than 50 days your calorie consumption will reach the 2,000 per day level.
If you want to make significant changes in your life, most of the time it will come through the aggregation of marginal gains. If you improve 1 percent per day, it will only take 100 days to reach a 100 percent improvement.
As we consider the power of small changes, let us consider what Christ had to say about how a very small item can make a big impact on its work around it.
Matthew 13:31-33 – Here is another illustration Jesus used, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
Jesus also used this illustration, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
The truth is that most of the significant things in life aren’t standalone events but rather the sum of all the moments when we chose to do things 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. Aggregating these marginal gains makes a difference. There is power in small wins and slow gains. This is why…Average speed yields above average results. This is why the system is greater than the goal. This is why mastering your habits is more important than achieving a certain outcome.
Where can you implement the 1 percent improvements in your life?
That will finish our podcast for today. Click on the image below for your free PDF Chart of the Aggregation of Marginal Gains.
Tomorrow we will look at the value of a check list in our Trek of life and how it applies to creating a living legacy.
Please check into our “camp” tomorrow for another day on our Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.
I encourage you to leave a discussion topic, comment, suggestion, or question about this podcast in the comment form on Wisdom-Trek.com/day16, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like us to discuss any topics or answer any questions during our podcast, please let us know. We would love to have interaction from members of our Wisdom-Trek team.
Please subscribe on iTunes or the player of your choice so Wisdom-Trek is downloaded each day automatically. We also have a Subscribe to Podcast page.
Please leave us a rating on each episode. It means so much to us. Also, spread the word to everyone you know to join us on our Wisdom-Trek. Thank you!
As we take this Trek together let us always:
- Live Abundantly (Fully)
- Love Unconditionally
- Listen Intentionally
- Learn Continuously
- Lend Generously
- Lead with Integrity
- Leave a Living Legacy Each Day
This is Guthrie Chamberlain reminding you to Keep Moving Forward, Enjoy the Journey, and Create a Great Day! See you tomorrow!