Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about the aggregation of marginal gains at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of this video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Someone sent me an article the other day, which I read. It was fantastic. It was about the aggregation of marginal gains. The aggregation of marginal gains, and it was fascinating. It was all about improving everything by just 1%. What would happen if you improved everything in your life just a tiny little bit?

And in particular the article was about Dave Brailsford, who’s the coach of the UK cycling team, a new coach with the UK cycling team, and the UK cycling team has done extraordinarily well. And his entire philosophy was to do exactly this: To look at everything from the food they were eating to how to get a better night’s sleep to how to get a better seed on the actual bike itself, but there were things related to cycling and things that seemed unrelated completely, like the quality of pillow that you sleep on to get a better night’s sleep. There were dozens and dozens of different things where his primary objective was to improve everything just a little bit. And then sure enough, the team ended up doing extraordinarily well and has been in the news as being a tremendous success story over the last few years, this whole notion of increasing everything by just a little bit, tiny little improvements.

And this relates to my entire opinion about success and greatness and all the things that I talk about in my videos, is that people always look for an overnight success story and it’s very, very rare to have a true overnight success story. The vast majority of people, for years and years, they’re doing little things, little things, improving, improving, making it a little bit bigger, a little bit better, a little bit better, constantly making tiny little adjustments, and incrementally it’s like building a brick building one brick at a time. Each brick on its own, it’s not big. It doesn’t mean anything. But when you keep stacking them, keep stacking them, eventually it starts to take shape and you get walls and you put the whole building together, but you build it tiny victories at a time.

I’ve always thought that success is the accumulation of 10,000 tiny victories and probably 100,000 tiny failures. That’s the whole process of trying things and pushing past your limits and trying to learn and trying to improve just that tiny little bit, and a lot of times it won’t work but sometimes it will and you incrementally improve a tiny bit each time, maybe 1% each time. Well, like any compound interest chart, you’re going to see that it’s going to be slow at the beginning, hardly anything’s changing, but then it starts to pick up speed and the whole thing takes on an exponential curve and all of a sudden it starts to go…

I just did a video about this not long ago about you reap what you sow. It’s the same thing. You got to do these things and just keep nurturing, keep nurturing that seed, keep trying to improve things, make things a tiny bit better, and not just related to your work but related to everything in your life. And what ends up happening is that you start to build that foundation, and when the foundation’s there it’s like the root system of a tree. Once those roots are there, that’s when the tree can start to grow higher. Aggregate marginal gains, right? Fascinating.

And by the way, the reverse is also true. When you have someone who’s got bad luck, for example, I hate it when people talk about being unlucky because nine times out of 10 bad luck is the accumulation of dozens of tiny bad decisions, tiny bad decisions made day after day after day, or times where you could have done more and chose not to. I mean, I know that there are situations where people are genuinely lucky or genuinely unlucky, but for the vast majority of cases when people have bad luck or things are not going well in their life, it’s the accumulation of dozens or even hundreds of tiny bad decisions as compared to hundreds of tiny good decisions, can make an enormous difference in the quality of a person’s life and the success that they achieve during their lifetime.

So focus on the little things. Focus on the one percent. Try to improve everything just a tiny little bit and in time you’re going to see things take shape, and I wish you luck. I wish myself luck in the same venture.

My name is Patrick. Thanks so much for watching this video. And remember, always think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.