At a recent Diversity Summit, the speaker, Dr. Jermaine Davis, encouraged people to follow the “principle of the slight edge.” He reminded us that Olympic athletes often win a medal by nanoseconds, not leaps and bounds, and that this same idea of incremental improvement can be applied to learning about diversity and inclusion.

It reminded me of a talk by author James Clear who spoke of developing habits that allow for a 1% improvement every day. He recounts the story of Dave Brailsford, the coach of the Brittish cycling team, who believed in the “aggregation of marginal gains.” Brailsford tended to every detail, including bringing pillows on the road so riders slept better, teaching hand washing skills to prevent colds and evaluating the effectiveness of different massage techniques on muscle recovery. His pattern of 1% improvements led to numerous Tour de France titles and Olympic Gold.

Whether it is in weight loss or profit gain, we are too often tempted to look for the silver bullet that will result in a big win. What Davis, Clear and Brailsford show is that the small, repeated behaviors are really the key to long-term success.

Break down your big goal into tiny habits to achieve victory.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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