1% Better Everyday

I once read an interview of an athletics director as introduction to their new university community. The person was someone whom I didn’t know personally, yet respected from a distance for not only their professional advancement, but their commitment to personal integrity and honor. As part of the interview process this person was asked about their philosophy for how they saw the operation was going to proceed under new leadership.

The answer was 1% better everyday.

In a large, established organization, change doesn’t happen quickly and this leader recognized that fact. Change is inevitable, however, and this person also recognized that as well. With the right channeled, controlled change, a little at a time, big changes result. Just a little at a time.


This approach of getting better 1% everyday at life and work is called Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning continuous improvement.

Seth Godin called it the drip. Drip by drip, a little at a time things change until all of a sudden you realize how different things from when you started.

Both get at the same idea…the fact that big results can come from the small, continuous improvement of something over time. In finance, 1% compounded over time would yield incredible results, even if only for a short amount of time…and remember, you have your entire life ahead of you to start this 1% change in thinking and behavior.


Do you recall the “penny” question from middle school or high school math class? If asked if you could have your choice of a million dollars at the end of 30 days or a penny doubled every day for 30 days, which would you choose? There’s not a correct answer, but if you’re going for the most money you should have chosen the compounded penny because that results in almost ten times more money. That’s a big change in a short amount of time.

This approach to self-improvement is not about a destination, it’s about just being better than yesterday and not as good as tomorrow. If you fall short on something, you’re never very far from getting back to where you started if you only focus on the process. If you focus on the process and the daily steps toward getting further along, then your dreams become goals become reality.

1% better everyday. It’s a lofty ideal, but what else do you have? You have today. And that’s good enough for me.

Go Forth.

Make Everyday Net Positive

Eat, Move, Sleep for a net positive  way to gear your day.
Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath is full of actionable advice geared toward making your days and live net positive.

Happy 2015! I wanted my first post of the new year to be significant, but not stifling, encouraging, but not upsetting, and profound, not passive. Well, I waited too long and we’re almost to February, but here’s a little bit of wisdom to keep you going on your goals for the new year – make everyday a net positive. Do more good things for yourself and what you want to accomplish than bad things. Sure, we all do stuff we wonder why we did and we feel overwhelmed about all the things we wish we did differently, but doesn’t mean we can’t make every day a little bit better than yesterday.

Tom Rath’s book Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes talks about just that – try to make everyday’s final outcome a net positive in favor of your health and happiness. To be healthy and fulfilled and achieving, Rath suggests that the little things really do matter…a lot actually. Over time, small choices make us who we are and unless we’re consciously thinking about the small choices we make, we’ll wonder how we ended up where we are. But, the other thing Rath says is that it’s not too late to make a change. Some damage may be irreversible, but there’s no day like today to make a better choice.

Start with these three simple things: eating, moving, sleeping.

EAT – Make small choices every single day to create a net positive with your diet. If you’re used to eating fast food every day. Stop drinking soda; order a water instead, for example. Do something at at least one meal per day that is a healthy choice. Even slow down when eating; doing so will allow your body more time to digest your food, allowing the “I’m full” signals in your stomach to make it to your brain.

MOVE – Move frequently at a slow pace. You don’t need to exercise like crazy if you’re used to being a couch potato, watching TV all the time. Rath says that all we need to do to get started is moving frequently throughout the day. If you have a desk job, set a timer for 30 minutes to get up and stretch and repeat for the entire day you’re at work. Rath says that sitting is killing us and gives great advice on how to get active throughout the day. As a matter of fact, if you’re reading this, get up right now and take a lap wherever you are – Office, waiting room, gym, (ok, if you’re on a bus, you probably shouldn’t stand up, but you get the picture).

SLEEP – Make sleep a priority, please. Sleep is vital to good health and it’s a shame that as a culture we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking that we “can sleep when we’re dead.” Sleep is the best way for your body to repair itself, renew your health, maintain a good immune system and refresh all normal functioning. Read this book for more tips on improving sleep – I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Tom Rath is an accomplished writer (most notabely for StrengthsFinder 2.0)and he takes a different turn with this book. He’s not a doctor and doesn’t claim to be one, but rather wants to simply pass on some good advice for better living. Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes is full of actionable advice that you can implement right away and I personally already have. I think the best piece of advice is to make everyday a net positive. Do one less bad thing a day and you’ll be on your way…but do a good thing for yourself in place of that bad thing and you’ll be even better off. Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes – buy it today!

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