David Strittmatter

The power of marginal gains

Success is achieved through a few simple methods, practiced consistently

Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing great! I have a crazy week behind me and had the chance to experience some unforgettable moments. Over the last couple of days, I traveled to Las Vegas and could experience three days of this amusement paradise. It was simply unbelievable. 

Besides the numerous casinos, luxury hotels and restaurants, there are several nightclubs that offer – beside unbelievably expensive drinks – the best in electronic dance music. It was such a great experience. I have loved electronic dance music since my childhood and was even an EDM DJ myself for a while in my youth. In addition, the most famous artists in the clubs are constantly DJing. It was such an insane experience for me. 

Without saying much more, I can definitely recommend a weekend trip to Vegas. If you are careful with your expenses and attentive to price comparisons, you can stay in the best luxury hotels for a low price and enjoy a lot of fun in the best clubs of the world with incredibly open-minded and great people.

Before I am going to tell you about my learnings of the past week, I have to address another issue first. As in the 15th issue stated I wanted to find places where I expect to come across people to party with and, eventually, go there as well as telling you about my experiences. Right now, though, I am pretty busy with travelling, preparing myself for other projects (shooting videos; more infos will come) and studying (yes, I am actually still a full-time student). Therefore, finding new people to party with currently has not the highest priority and is to be postponed until I have more spare time for that since my focus is more on sports and other projects now and my grades are very important too. However, it is still my goal to find new people to party with and prove my thesis that you should look for people you are searching for at places you expect them to be. Just stay tuned! 

Well, now let me tell you about my latest learnings. 

The power of marginal gains

Have you ever heard of the power of marginal gains? It states that no matter what you want to improve, a small amount of improvement in everything what is related to this will add up to a remarkable improvement. 

This concept is said to go back to Dave Brailsford. No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team), that’s what Dave was asked to do. 

His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to substantial improvement. They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires. But they did not stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

Dave expected to win the Tour de France after five years of executing this strategy, but he was wrong. They did it after three years. 

Yes, this is only one particular example. However, this concept is not only quite logical, but I have already experienced for myself how powerful marginal gains can be. When I was in sixth grade, I was one of the worst students in my class in terms of my grades. I was unmotivated to study, did not pay attention to what my teacher told us in class and were just doing my homework irregularly. 

Since the seventh grade, though, this changed as I wanted to improve my grades. Ever since I have done my homework a little more often, more actively participated in class, earlier learned for my tests and thought about how else I could improve. In eight grade, these small adjustments had not really paid off yet. I was still an average student regarding my grades. 

But as I kept improving, making marginal gains and searching for more possibilities to create even more marginal improvements (learning vocabularies more frequently, doing extra tasks, searched for more effective learnings methods etc), I finished middle school (tenth grade) as the best student. 

And it did not stop there. Since I was always striving to improve myself, I could finish high school as one of the best students the school has ever had. Moreover, applying this concept to my academic career helps me to achieve very efficiently above average grades while having a full packed extramural schedule. 

And it did not take me much more time and effort than my peers to achieve this. I am just searching for the way of least resistance: Searching for areas of marginal improvements with the highest outcome potential. 

Further, I could not only observe the positive impact of marginal improvements in my school and university successes, but also in regard to my personal development. When I was sixteen years old, I was a totally different person. I was afraid talking to strangers, nervous standing in front of people, uneasy when talking to olders and people I admired and had a low self-esteem. 

After I had decided for myself that this cannot go on any longer, I found numerous areas for marginal improvement. I started with having a smile on my faces even when I am not in the mood to and talking to people, I already know more often. From time to time I found more and more little small challenges such as being the first person who is going to present in class, talking to at least one stranger person when I am out, reading in personal development books, doing sports etc. 

Eventually, all these small improvements have added up and helped me to make even more improvements. This kind of compound improvements changed my whole life and lifted my overall happiness to the next level. 

I really hope that I could make you understand this great concept and, ideally, conviced you to apply this to your daily life and your short- and long-term goals. Please let me know if you are confronted with a challenge and do not know how to apply this concept to it. I would be pleased to support you harnessing the power of marginal gains.

This was my learning of the last week. Thank you so much for reading all of this week’s issue. 

All the best to you and yours, David

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