Dreams, Change and Marginal Gains

Sometimes the size of our ideas and ambitions makes us freeze. The good news is that, no matter how big the idea or the ambition, there is always something small that you can do today, that will contribute 1% (or even less) to your success, and if you keep ion doing all those small things, you will get there.

We all have dreams for our futures. We want to be better, feel better and have better things. However, the fact that a lot of us who dream don’t feel ‘better’ also means that we often feel we don’t deserve those dreams. They are too big, too far away, not real.

This is something I saw play out time and time again as a promoter and manager of bands. It was not that the musicians didn’t have ambitions, it was that these ambitions were so big the artists were paralysed and didn’t know how to act on them.

The music industry is overflowing with myths of success: overnight hot, genius, right time right place etc etc. SO much so that the idea of being able to plot a course of action with SUCCESS as its endpoint is almost incomprehensible, illogical, impossible.

The real world is no different to that of RocknRoll… we also stare these myths in the face every day. But what if I told you that these myths were the reasons WHY people don’t achieve their dreams? What if I told you that belief in these myths is greater and stronger than your belief in your dream?

It’s true, and I know that because you do not act on your dream, you just speak about it.

The antidote to this monolithic, demotivating, devastating truth is the idea of Marginal Gains. Popularised by British Cycling coach Sir Dave Brailsford and with roots in post-World War II Japan, Marginal Gains is about changing everything you do for the better. But not radically, overnight, from top to bottom. Just looking for all and any small things that can be changed now. Look for the gaps, the cracks, the over-looked and the under-estimated. And then look for the next and the next.

According to Wikipedia, the concept has its roots in the Japanese word ‘kaizen’, meaning to change for the better, no matter how big or small. In business, kaizen has come to refer to activities that continuously improve work-related activities, not just by looking at the activities themselves, but the things that influence them. Thus, Kaizen looks at all functions and all actions by everyone in business, from the top to the bottom.

Change is nothing more than having the courage to look at what needs to be done to improve and then acting on it. It doesn’t have to be big; it just has to include action. BUT then that process needs to be repeated over and over and over again. After a short while, you will need to get creative in finding things to improve and that is when you are well and truly on your way to achieving your desires.

Apply Marginal Gains to your ideas and dreams for the future: So, you want to become a famous musician. Take steps to improve your skills levels: guitar, music theory, vocal production. Read more on composition, listen to all the top hits of the world. Then, move on to the industry: meet more musicians, meet managers, find out how record companies work and so on and so on. By not focussing on the end goal, but rather on continuously improving everything you are doing, the goal almost achieves itself.

So, you want to be a captain of industry. Study business, successful businesspeople, apply elements of what you learn, try out different things, make sure you’re sleeping well, look after your health, cross-reference your information from one industry to another and so and so on.

What is the story you are telling yourself about your future? And what could you do today that would already contribute just 1% towards achieving it in the future? Then make that 1% improvement in as many places and as many ways as you possibly can.

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