What That 1% Might Look Like…

Posted: August 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Do you guys ever have moments when you say something and then immediately recognize the possibility that your words could be misconstrued?  You know like when you say “Wow, you’ve lost a TON of weight!”  Or  “Congratulations! When are you expecting?”  Or when you repeat any joke that Chris Rock has ever done?

Well after my last post, I realized I might have to explain myself a bit more.  Admittedly, I thought the message was pretty straight forward and not to mention ridiculously awesome seeing as how I did write, direct, produce, star and co-star in the entire thing myself.

But therein lies the problem; trying to get someone else to understand your ideas the way you do in your own head.  Of course, that will all be solved once the entire planet exists under one unified consciousness.


Riiiight.

Well.  Until then, you’ll have to settle for the occasional follow-up post or two.

Please realize that it’s not that I think anyone is too dumb to understand the concept of trying to be 1% better each day*, but a friend brought up a good question after reading the post.  To what end can you actually seek out that 1%?

You don’t have to go around asking guys if they like apples through a glass window to figure out that after 100 days you’ll hit 100%.  Nor do I think anyone that read the post actually took that phrase literally.  But there is a catch.  It is rare to find anything in life that improves linearly (steadily) over time.  As you start to improve at whatever it is you’re trying to improve, the gains become smaller and smaller and finding that 1% gets a little tricky.

When this happens, sometimes it benefits us to start looking for that 1% in other places.

Say you want to improve your deadlift, because it will make you awesome at life stronger.  So you find someone to teach you the technique and you steadily improve.  As the weight increases, the lift becomes harder  and you hit the point where you stop improving altogether.

Here’s where most people would just give up and condemn the deadlift to hell.  But not you.  No, you’re smart.  You know there’s an answer to your problem.  You just haven’t looked in the right places yet.  So you dust off your trusty old physics textbook.  While randomly reading something about torque and levers and insert word that sounds like a physics word here, you start to see your deadlift like a physics student does and not just the way a weightlifter does.  Then you make the adjustments to your lift based on the answers to the physics problem you’ve just solved.

Ok.  I’m not saying you should all just read your old textbooks and that all things will be as closely tied together as physics and strength training (although they are a lot more related than most people realize).  Learn things you want to learn and try things that you’ve always wanted to try.  And if you figure out how to relate all those new interests to what you already know, you’ll always come away with a slightly different perspective than when you started.

Geez, stop rolling your eyes like I’m trying to sell you on professional wrestling.

I can see you’re not convinced.   Alright well, here you go:

Please draw your attention to Exhibit A:  Innocentive.com

In 2001, this website was launched by one of the largest drug companies in the world, Eli Lilly.  The goal of the website was to ask the public questions that their own research team could not answer.  They figured why not ask everyone and give a reward if anyone actually finds a solution?  Soon the website had a bunch of  people solving problems that were completely unrelated to their field of expertise.  How?  Their differing areas of study gave the solvers a different vantage point.  Chemists with chemist mindsets were solving physics problems and so on.

Let me repeat that for those of you who were busy googling cat pictures.  One of the largest, richest companies on the planet put problems on their website that their own team of specialists couldn’t solve.  And they did this all on a whim thinking NO ONE ELSE would be able to solve them.  But people solved them.  And a good bunch of them were solved by people from totally unrelated fields to the problems.

Granted these were experts in their respective fields, but you get the point.  Not all problems will call for an expert opinion to solve them.  A lot of the times it really is just a shift in your perspective that gets the ball rolling.
So.  Do you like apples?

Sorry.  I couldn’t help myself.

Let me reiterate that you don’t need to improve at every thing in the entire world or be an expert at everything.  Not at all.  When you learn about something you’re interested in, you will have acquired another lens to view problems through.

But don’t just keep all the information separated in your head.  See how all those disciplines relate to one another, even if they seem completely unrelated.  Doing so will allow you to view your challenges with a much wider scope.  That ability to see through the eyes of someone with a different view of the world will give you the same sort of edge that is experienced on Innocentive.com.

In the end, that’s all this was about in the first place.  We’re trying to find that extra 1% that will give us the leg up on whatever challenges we present ourselves with.  Whether it’s pulling 500 lbs off the floor in a deadlift or creating the next wonder drug, having a few more sets of lenses certainly can’t hurt.  And a lot of times, that extra set of eyes will be exactly what we need to move forward.

*I stand corrected.  This guy might be too dumb.

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