Improve 1%

Improve 1%

Aim to improve by 1% every day

The concept of improving by just one percent is nothing new and I'm sure you've heard various quotes from different sports stars and athletes about how they try to improve themselves 1% everyday and how this is a good attitude to take if you are focusing on long-term growth and improvement within any specific thing.
This '1% rule' really lies at the roots of this black belt skills concept. Everything that we're talking about is designed to to improve your physical practice and some of the things that we talked about may have a seemingly negligible impact and might not even be noticeable to you at first. Our focus is really about trying to to get all the different aspects right, combining all the elements and compounding them together to create slow but steady progress and eventually taking you further than ever.
1% is actually quite a lot when you think about it. If you're talking about 1% within your discipline as a whole then that would truly lead to incredible progress. Within just 100 days you could double your ability level, but unfortunately this is not really possible, especially the more advanced you get you'll find that the gains begin to to slow down or drop off. By saying 1% what we really mean is a reference to an abstract metaphor; the idea is is to constantly aim to improve yourself, to stay in the student mindset - always being open to learn, to receive new information and to walk away from any practice feeling like you have done one tiny little thing better than you had done it before. 
In the same we that we spoke about breaking down your ultimate goals into long term, short term and shorter term. Consider these "1%s" to lie within the shorter, short term goals. 
Progress in this sense can be quite hard to quantify, especially when you're looking at it from the first person perspective. Let's take an example to try to break down different ways that you can see progress and what we think the 1% rule should mean to you.

Steve is a blue belt in jiu jitsu. If he were to practice this concept of 1% improvements he might think that in 100 days he would be 100% better than he is today, what would that mean?! Surely to be 100% better than he is at a blue-belt would mean he becomes a purple-belt or at least close! Unfortunately to attain this in 100 days is not just difficult, it's not practical or ever realistically attainable at a good school (in most cases). 

 Instead of thinking about the 1% as a percentage of his skill as a whole this 1% has got to be a percentage within in one of the many sub-disciplines, specific areas or "building blocks" that come together  to make up his is skill level as a whole.

In practice this could mean many different things but the concept is far more achievable when thought about in this way. In one session Steve could drill a rear naked choke 100 times and realise that rotating his forearm slightly inwards increases the amount of pressure he can put on his opponents throat. To improve this one technique in this small specific way is exactly what we mean mean when we talk about the 1% rule.

Another example would be at the end of the session - Steve cools down and includes 5 minutes extra of a pigeon stretch that he never usually does to include this stretch for this one session is hardly going to make a massive difference BUT what does make a massive difference is to include that stretch in every cool down for a year. Clearly if you want to include it every cool down for a year this cannot be possible unless you include it just one session at the beginning.
The more that Steve thinks about how much he can break down each little area of Jiu-Jitsu the more he finds different areas that he can make small incremental progress in and ultimately overtime this is going to have a big effect on his whole game.
A text book can contain a lifetime of information. Just reading one page is not going to make you an expert but perhaps reading the whole textbook will.
You cannot read the whole text book unless you read a single page first. The textbook is comprised of many pages and only one can read at a time, reading one is a necessary step before reading two. Therefore you can easily deduct that reading one page is a necessary, productive and practical first step that is easily comparable to what we mean by the 1% rule. 
Reading one page may not seem like a great deal at the time but the information within in the entirety of the textbook is a different story.
The 1% rule is a mindset - A practical step to take right now is do these things:
- Identify the last thing that you improved upon within your discipline this thing should be as big or small all as it is is does not matter it can be as much as a new thought or a new way to visualise a technique.
- Identify five things that you can do in the context of 1% rule truth upon your practice over the next couple of sessions.
- From this point onwards you need to be actively thinking about identifying different areas that you can improve upon and whether you take action on them all at once is up to you but if not make sure that you write them out and prioritise them in the best way that you see fit.
Picture yourself as a sponge always looking to find new information new knowledge and absorb it and overtime you you grow filler bigger more full of information and before you know it is 1% improvements all turn into something that's making a noticeable impact on your practice and your skill. 

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