“The 1% Solution for Work and Life” (How to Make Your Next 30 Days the Best Ever) by Tom Connellan is a self-help book based on the idea of improving your life by doing things just one per cent better. One per cent? Most people will scoff at the idea that 1% is enough to make a difference. We need BIG improvements: way more money, much better jobs, fairy-tale romances, kids who adore us and the ability to run a four-minute mile in stilettos. And, we’re way more than one percent away from those things.
The story is about Ken, who is “in a slump” in his marriage, with his kids and in his job. When Ken attends his son’s soccer game, he notices the team is somehow different than they were last year, as is the coach. When the team actually wins the game, Ken asks the coach what changed. The coach explains how he discovered the 1% solution and used it to improve the soccer team’s performance.
The coach tells Ken that he analyzed sports, particularly the Olympics, and noticed that the difference between winning the Gold and coming in 4th (no medal) was often a mere 1% difference. The coach used that knowledge to help the team improve their skills. The 1% solution basically says that we can all improve a lot of things in our lives by 1%. The theory is based on the Olympic motto, which is “Swifter, Higher, Stronger” – not Swiftest, Highest, Strongest. The coach tells Ken, “Not everyone can be great, but they can be better than they are right now.”
Ken agrees to commit to a 30-day program of doing 1% better and the coach then introduces him to several people who teach Ken more principles to help him in his goal to improve. These “One Percenters” coach Ken in additional principles of the 1% solution.
--Motivation and action. Powerful but very simple. Motivation does create action, but action also creates motivation. Doing something gives you more motivation to take more action.
--Physics lessons: Lessons about inertia and leverage and how we can use this knowledge to be more productive and effective.
--The importance of practice. To get good at anything, you have to practice; deliberately and not just “go through the motions.”
--The mindset you need to create new habits. Why resolutions don’t work. How your beliefs about something can affect the outcome and how to change those beliefs.
--The importance of rest. Structuring your day to include focused work periods with breaks (include physical activity if you have a sedentary job). Get enough sleep. Take regular vacations.
The story ends with the group meeting for dinner and reviewing Ken’s journey with the 1% solution. The rest of the group admits that they still struggle with some of the points. It’s all about getting a little bit better every day than the day before.
This book is a fairly short (150 pages) easy read. The story/fable format (very similar the Ken Blanchard One-Minute books) works well for this content. The book includes numerous examples and stories of each of the principles. This helps with understanding the concepts, plus it personalizes the content by showing us examples of “real” people telling their stories.
Small, continuous improvement is not a new concept in personal achievement. There are many books about the subject. However, this is one of my favorites. The way the science and psychology is explained is easy to understand and the action steps make it easier to integrate the 1% solution into our lives. The idea of doing 1% better might seem insignificant at first glance, but after reading this book, I concur that it can bring about really big changes.
Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided free from the publisher.