In our last +1, we explored the analytics of American farting behaviors and compared that to the even more prolific Facebook-liking behaviors. (Laughing.) Today, we’re going to explore the subject of farts a little more. A particular, shall we say, spicy variety of farts. Spiritual farts. Yes, spiritual farts. What are spiritual farts, you ask?
Edward Slingerland is one of the world’s leading experts on both ancient Chinese thought AND modern cognitive science. This book is a melding of those two realms. It’s a truly fascinating read. I read it in a day and felt like I was spending the day hanging out with a brilliant thinker—getting privileged access to twenty years of deep thinking. If you’re into ancient wisdom and modern science I think you’ll love the book as much as I did. Big Ideas we explore include defining wu-wei + de (one of the coolest words/concepts ever), what Confucius + Lao Tzu + Mencius + Chuang Tzu have to say about wu-wei, and the spontaneity of mirrors.
Once upon a time, no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France. Over 100 years of trying, and, precisely, zero wins.
Then a guy named Sir David Brailsford stepped in and created Team Sky. He said that a British cyclist would win the Tour within five years. People thought he was crazy.
Until they won it in two years.
Then, for good measure, they won four of the next five races as well.
How’d he do it?
He looked for all the tiny little places where he could Optimize.
Things like making sure the riders uniforms were always washed in the same skin-friendly detergent for a little more comfort.
Things like making sure the riders always slept on the same exact mattresses every night to give them the best shot at a good night of sleep.
Things like making sure the hotel rooms were always properly vacuumed to reduce potential infections.
TINY little things.
Any one gain wouldn’t do a whole lot, of course.
But, as we know, when you aggregate and compound enough of those tiny little incremental optimizations MAGIC happens.
In this case, Tour de France victories.
As Brailsford puts it (via Matthew Syed in Black Box Thinking): “I realized early on that having a grand strategy was futile on its own. You also have to look at the smaller level, figure out what is working and what isn’t. Each step may be small, but the aggregation can be huge.”
The same rules apply to our lives. A grand strategy, although important, is futile on its own. We need to go granular and figure out what’s working and what isn’t.
So… Today’s +1.
What’s working for you? Do more of it.
What’s NOT working for you? Do less of it.
Specifically: Do you have a better day when you begin your day in a certain way? Do you have more energy when you eat less of x and more of y? Do you feel better when you exercise or go to bed by a certain time? What other data can you collect?
TEST!!! Get feedback. Look honestly at what’s working and at what’s not and dial it in.
FIND THE MARGINAL GAINS.
Not complicated. Easy to overlook. But super powerful.
Echo: When we aggregate and compound marginal gains over an extended period of time we get EXTRAORDINARY gains.
In cycling, that’s what separates you from the pack and leads to Tour de France victories.
In life, that’s what separates us from our old selves so we can actualize our potential.
Here’s to marginal gains!
+1. +1. +1.