1% to Olympic Gold

1% to Olympic Gold

Dave Brailsford became performance director for professional cycling in Great Britain in 2003. 
He had been hired to bring British Cycling to a new level. 

Since 1908, British riders had won just one gold medal at the Olympic Games, and in 110 years, no British cyclist had ever won Tour de France. 

But after five years as Brailsford joined the team, they won 7 out of 10 gold medals in track cycling at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

Four years later, at the London Olympics, they raised the bar by setting 9 Olympic records and 7 world records. The same year, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win Tour de France. His teammate Chris Froome won the race the next year and did it again in 2015, 2016, and 2017. 

The secret to this success? Improving everything you do by 1%.

The whole principle came from the idea that if you break down everything that goes into riding a bike and then improve it by 1%, you'll get a significant improvement when you put it all together.
As well as pursuing tiny gains in predictable areas, such as nutrition and training, Brailsford went beyond expectations. 

He searched for the most comfortable pillow for cyclists to take everywhere because there's no good performance without good sleep, the best hand-washing techniques to avoid illness or the best gel to accelerate muscle recovery. 

They even painted the inside of the team truck white to spot little bits of dust to prevent the performance of the finely tuned bikes from diminishing. 
The main takeaway. 

We focus too much on big changes in our daily lives, sport or business. But in fact, when we start focusing on the little things instead and aiming for continuous improvement, it's more powerful. A 1% improvement might not be instantly noticeable. Still, it could make a big difference in the long run – especially as the results are cumulative.

"Forget about perfection; focus on progression and compound the improvement." -
Dave Brailsford