Episode 150 - How To Win...
The Thursday Thesis – 9/5/2019
The Formula One expert told me “...Winning is an either/or sort of thing – one is either the winner, or one is not. The difference between being first and second is infinitely more than one place in the finishers’ list: it’s all the difference in the World...”
"..and if we can make 1/100th of a second every lap, and then get another 1/100th faster in the next race, we'll win a lot of races - period"
He made it sound so easy - and I believed him.
As a senior aerodynamicist at Lotus' racing division, he knew a thing or two about going fast in motor racing.
He also knew a lot about going fast on bicycles - one of my life's passions - having worked with Chris Boardman on the Lotus bike that helped Chris win Olympic gold and break World Records.
He said that - at its core - racing is a simple matter: you just have to go faster than the other bloke.
If everything else is equal, you only have to go faster for a few seconds, or a few meters to make the difference between being the Winner and being the fastest loser. He described a slight advantage or improvement in performance as a “marginal gain”, and that once a tiny advantage has been gained, you only have to go as fast as the other fella.
That’s all the winner’s advantage is – a split second of going faster, then maintaining that advantage until the finish line.
And the important part of that is “finish line”, because it means never giving up, never slacking-off until the job is done, because your competition is snapping away at your metaphorical heels – waiting for you to make a mistake or suffer a mechanical problem, or just to get tired and ease off a smidge.
So the very best thing to do is to go faster more than once, to figure out how to go faster twice, three times, four...
When you add up all the little moments when you went a teeny bit faster than the other bloke it’s not a small difference any more – it’s the total of all the small things put together. Technically these are known as Aggregated Marginal Gains (AMGs) and the cumulative effect of stacking one AMG on top of another, on top of another – over and over again – can make a massive difference.
And here’s the thing – whilst it’s daunting to aim for a big improvement in what you and I do every day – we can achieve massive improvements by making multiple Marginal Gains over time.
If we do just one thing 1% better it’s probably no big deal. Let’s suppose we were horribly out of shape and could manage to run 100 metres... Well, our 1% improvement would add just 1metre to our run, and we’d push ourselves to cover 101 metres instead of 100.
That’s doable, isn’t it?
Next day we’d add 1% to our 101 metre run – edging the distance out to 102.01 metres.
That’s all it takes, just 1% longer every day.
Now suppose you could run just 1% faster every day: the 1% faster pace would be acting over 1% longer distance, compounding the improvements.
How cool is that?
Aggregating Marginal Gains is a great way to gradually improve whatever it is that you do, whether it’s sport, business, relationships or making music; and while a giant leap may be too scary to try for, but being 1% better – over and over again – that’s doable, isn’t it?
© Neil Cowmeadow 2019
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