#582 How to Think About Your Flaws

Hint: Alchemize Them into Marginal Gains

The other day I was working on a Note on Phil Maffetone’s book called 1:59. It’s all about how he thinks someone will run a marathon in less than 2 hours. He offers his perspective on how they should approach it and, of course, how we can apply that wisdom to our lives and to our training.

Chapter 1 is all about programming our minds. He tells us why he named the book “1:59” and how important it is for the brain to see the “1” and not the “2.”

As he says: “There’s another reason why I refer to ‘1:59’ rather than ‘2:00.’ That’s because if the discussion dwells on the ‘2’ and not ‘1,’ the brain is actually affected by a misapplication of mental visualization. As I will show in the chapter on the brain, this organ is the marathoner’s most powerful instrument. The brain needs to know that it can go 1:59. It needs to formulate an indelible picture of 1-5-9, and not 2-0-0. This highly trained and healthy body will follow the brain’s instruction.”

Fascinating stuff. Want to do the seemingly impossible? Awesome. Define it with precision and remember that it all starts with winning in our minds.

But that’s not the point of this +1.

Today I want to talk about the fact that the DETAILS matter. A lot.

Remember our discussion about marginal gains in this +1 and our Note on Black Box Thinking?

Quick recap: Former Olympian Matthew Syed tells us about Sir David Brailsford, the general manager of Britain’s Team Sky racing team. Long story short, no British cyclist had EVER won the Tour de France. 100+ attempts. Zero wins. Brailsford said they’d win within five years. People said he was crazy. They won in two years. Then they won it four out of the next five years.

How? By obsessing about MARGINAL GAINS. Obsessing about the TINY little things they could do to Optimize, then aggregating and compounding those tiny little things into very big gains.

Syed tells us: “Every error, every flaw, every failure, however small, is a marginal gain in disguise. This information is regarded not as a threat but as an opportunity.”

How’s THAT for a way to approach every little error/flaw/failure in your life?

All those little errors, flaws, and failures—however small?

Those aren’t threats to your well-being, THEY ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO GET BETTER!!!

Remember: By far the fastest way to Optimize your life is to STOP doing the things that aren’t working.

Therefore, I repeat: “Every error, every flaw, every failure, however small, is a marginal gain in disguise. This information is regarded not as a threat but as an opportunity.”

Which brings us to the practical application of Today’s +1.

What marginal gains are “in disguise” in YOUR life?

What’s one TINY thing you can do to Optimize?

Get on that.

Repeat.

Aggregate.

Compound.

Over an extended period of time.

And voilà.

Magic.

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