Concentrate on one RIGHT thing for consistent improvement

by Mary Ann on January 4, 2011

The 1% Principle

jodie palmer image

Jodie Palmer – The 1% Principle

Our Spark Station Mastery Pilot Group has been having a lengthy discussion of the 1% principle. This concept will really free you up to make progress and jettison guilt. Today I want to share the idea with you and tomorrow some feelings and comments from The Spark Station Mastery Pilot Group experimenting with the concept Avoid doing too many things at once.

I asked Jodie Palmer to share her view of the 1% principle with you.

The 100% Devil

As I’ve worked with hundreds of parents over the years, I find that there’s one challenge that comes up over and over again. I call it the 100% devil.

This is the devil that sits on your shoulder and tells you that everything has to be fixed now; there’s no

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The 100% devil

time; you have to do it perfectly, or not at all; there is so much to do you’ll never get it done.  The way the 100% Devil manifests in my life these days is that I seem to fall off the wagon of consistency, so to speak, when my plans don’t go according to my vision of how things should or will be. Meaning, If I want to exercise more and I plan to get up 15 minutes early to do it, and then I have a child sick, or I’ve had to stay up late, or my husband has to go to work early a few days in a row I’m challenged to maintain my efforts or commitments because things didn’t go exactly as planned.

However the 100% Devil might manifest itself in your life, it will be one of the most dangerous and constant temptations you face., and it will be the most constant enemy that you face through this process.  The 100% Devil will distract your focus, dull your ears and discourage your heart.  The 100% Devil will doom you to failure.  If you learn nothing else through this course but the cure for the 100% Devil, it will be the most important and difficult thing you will learn. The cure for the 100% Devil is our next topic.

1% Principle

animated angel pictures

The 1% Principle

One day I was walking through the airport on my way to a business meeting.  I felt impressed to stop by the airport bookstore.  I walked in, and my eyes fell on a book written by one of the business greats, Peter Drucker.  I bought it, put it under my arm, and proceeded to my gate.  Settling down into my seat on the plane, I opened the book.  Now, at this point you need to know that I was the leader of an organization that was in a lot of pain.  In fact, we were on fire, getting ready to crash and burn. It’s not a fun place to be. It hurts a lot to be the leader of that type of organization.  I was hired to fix it, to heal it, and there was a lot to fix, a lot to heal, and it was all very urgent.

You are the executive, the CEO of your own organization: your family.  Maybe you feel right now about your family’s educational efforts like I did about my organization.  As my plane sped down the jet way, I read these words: “What needs to be done almost always contains more than one urgent task, but effective executives do not splinter themselves; they concentrate on one task.” I slammed the book shut as my plane left the runway and headed for the sky.  “No way! There are too many things that are hurting.  I can’t just focus on one of them.  On that schedule I’ll never fix it all before we dissolve!”

I understand exquisitely the struggle you may be feeling—your frustration with the number of things that need to be done or need to be fixed, and the urgency of all of them.  I have since learned that Peter was right.  Effective executives do not splinter themselves.  They focus on the 1%.  But not just any 1%, they focus on the RIGHT 1%.

I anticipate that you’re squirming in your seat a little right now at the thought of just moving along 1% at a time. At that rate it feels like your kids will be grown and out of your home by the time you get it all together.

Consider however that the 1% principle does not work according to linear addition, 1% + 1% + 1%. Rather, it works according to the law of exponentiality. In other words, when you work on the right 1% other issues that you weren’t focusing on at all seem to miraculously resolve themselves. Trying to focus on everything at once ultimately maintains mediocrity at best and moves us backwards in our goals at worst. Be assured that focusing on the right 1% will help you progress faster and more solidly than trying to do everything at once.

Let’s look at the application of the 1% principle in one more way. Remember, you’re the CEO of your family. Michael Gerber, in the E-Myth, writes that most businesses fail because the boss spends all of her time working “in” the business. Meaning always focusing on the day-to-day tasks necessary to keep the business going. The boss never spends any time working “on” the business, usually because they just don’t have the time. He calls this getting stuck in the “doin’ it, doin it, doin it, doin it” cycle. Using the 1% principle, we periodically step out of the day-to-day management of our family, and we look at working “on” the family. We ask ourselves, “What’s the one thing I could do that would make the most difference?” Then we focus our efforts on making that one thing happen.

Of course, we’re still responsible for running a family! We’re still going to have to manage all of the issues and problems that we had before, but we have focused our vision on the one thing that we’re going to work on improving while we manage everything else.

Remember this truth, real growth comes from building on solid, consistent 1% improvements.

So, when you feel that 100% Devil whispering on your shoulder, take the lesson from C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, and dash that little devil to the ground. Choose instead to recommit to your RIGHT 1% and trust that your real growth will come from building on that solid, consistent 1% improvement.

If you’re interested in learning more about the 1% Principle, I recommend Raving Fans, by Ken Blanchard.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jenny Johnson January 15, 2011 at 4:09 am

Jodie is simply so amazing.


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