As I’ve matured in my professional career I put more and more emphasis on the small things, which often seems like the basics, to present the greatest opportunity for advancement in progress of ones goals. In the early days of my career I would regularly come across a mentality which at the time I found only slightly weird, but which I now feel is in fact thoroughly destructive. This is the mindset of wanting the magic pill, the one big bang for your buck that sorts out all your problems. But in the health and fitness game this rarely is the case. In the end, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Typically, the things that make the difference are lots and lots of the ‘one-percenters’. I guess it’s a bit like the football coach that, after training for the main game-play strategies and basic 80-percenters which all teams should have done, puts the winning or losing down to who fights for the good-ole ‘1%ers’!
If you are looking for a change in results, attaining a goal or furthering your endeavours whether they be fitness, fat loss, strength or some performance or skill acquisition, then doing the same thing continuously if its’ not bringing about the changes or results you’re after is going to be disappointing. Different action is required. And assuming you’ve taken care of the basic 80%ers (which you should have done well before getting to this point), then usually this difference comes from lots of seemingly small changes or distinctions. Obviously you’ve got to do the main things right like getting your basic routine in check, whether it be lifestyle, diet, training, etc. But from that point, which most people generally get to, the biggest difference that makes the difference are these small 1%ers. So instead of a magic pill that acts as the one big change you’re looking for (which interestingly you’ve never been able to find so far) which solves all your problems, look for the many little distinctions that add up to be the defining alterations which kick-start the next level of results.
Because these changes are small people often fob them off as being too insignificant and thinking that in themselves they’re not impactful enough to change any results. Well, each minor change in and of itself probably ISN’T enough to turn the ship, I agree, but along with the next 1%er and the next and the next, all together make a big difference.
This also works on the flipside – just MISSING a single 1%er won’t kill your plans, but neglecting many will be like the tiny holes that sink the ship.
This is especially true in the more elite levels of fitness. A beginner makes simple changes (eg training for strength or fat loss, endurance or skill acquisition) and benefits greatly initially, but the more advanced you get the harder it is to keep reaping greater returns so the finer distinctions are even more pertinent to keep progress on the upward slope.
So unfortunately the only road to proper, consistent and effective results is the thorough road. And by thorough I mean we’re going to take care of all of the nooks and crannies, dot the ‘I’s’ and cross the ‘T’s’. Now, this doesn’t have to be 100% perfect, but it does have to be majority perfect and when considering how many 1%ers there are (a lot more than 100 to dive off the analogy), there are innumerable ways to get that slight edge on progressing your results. It just comes down to how committed you are.
Look at the attention difference between someone who is adept at their fitness goals versus the person who always struggles to make a shift. You’ll quickly notice that the adept person habitually does lots of the little things that the less competent person doesn’t find worthwhile or significant enough.
As coaches we are looking for the distinction that makes the distinction. We need to create a change in action that brings forth a change in result, and as we’ve stated here after the big, obvious things have been accounted for then it’s the many tiny factors that bring about that change.
I might give a certain protocol for diet and a certain protocol for training and someone then asks if they can adapt it slightly this way or that for suitability or convenience, and if this is advantageous then I’d say ‘Yes’, but if it misses the main aim of that protocol then you miss 1%. Then you will get in the habit of missing other 1%ers. Remember what we said about the flipside – that’s only a 1% change which may not make a big difference but if you miss lots of those things then it’s going to add up because it’s those cumulative little factors that make the difference, and if you take away my differences – you’ve got no difference!