Written in conjunction with Marisa Angelillo, InterCHANGE Associate Trainer
I recently read an article that made a big impact on me called ‘Marginal Gains’.
Apparently, Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France by making very small, marginal improvements to everything he did.
It started with changes that you might expect, for example:
- Improving his nutrition
- improving his weekly training program,
- optimizing ergonomics of the bike seat,
- perfecting the weight of the tyres.
But it didn’t stop there. The team supporting him 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 him 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.
The team supporting Bradley Wiggins believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years’ time.
They were wrong. They won it in three years.
This got me thinking, what could I do, as an InterCHANGE Trainer, to improve everything I do by 1%? At first, I found this quite hard, as I have to admit I did feel I was putting in my very best already, meticulously planning and reviewing my sessions, implementing changes from feedback and evaluation but if I did try to improve everything by 1% what would that look like?
I identified the following:
- Carrying out a series of vocal warm-ups before each session to make sure I didn’t jumble up my worms – I mean words!
- Reading around the subject of mentoring and including one new thing of value from my reading in my sessions.
- Mentoring myself on a Mosaic-type programme.
So, how did I get on?
Well, the vocal warm-ups have worked a treat and I hardly ever get my words muddled now! I would recommend vocal warm-ups to anyone doing training/presenting/public speaking. Apparently television journalists do them – I didn’t realise this until I started doing them myself.
From my reading, David Clutterbuck’s ‘Everyone Needs a Mentor’, I learned about different styles of mentoring and have been able to share these in my training sessions.
Finally, last October, I started mentoring on a Primary School programme working with small groups of 7 and 8 year old preparing for their First Holy Communion. This has been invaluable and I now have some good tips and ideas on how to keep children focused, how to engage the quieter ones and how to contain the noisier ones without dampening down their enthusiasm. I now also understand the power of a good seating plan!
Without a doubt, making these small changes has resulted in an improvement in the quality of training I provide. I would recommend the 1% improvement to everyone especially our Mosaic mentors. It is a simple technique that can be shared with our mentees. For me, the changes have had a great impact, not only on the training I deliver, but also on my confidence and self-efficacy.