I was traveling recently and had an interesting conversation with my new best friend for three hours. He was 68 years old and off to windsurf in Hawaii for two weeks. He offered the following comment, as I asked him about his greatest insight into life.

“Nothing replaces sustained, incremental efforts compounded over time.”

When interviewing successful athletes, lawyers, entrepreneurs, artists, and parents, I find that his insight remains one of the great truths in life. And yet, only a few take advantage of such a simple solution to the sweet rewards life has to offer. Let’s consider why that might be.

The Temptation of the 100 Percent Solution

Life will give us challenges. This is inevitable.

Many people wait until the challenge is rooted itself in the middle of their lives before considering a change. This often leads to a strong desire for immediate results.

Individuals unexpectedly seeking to remedy a poor job performance review at work often ignored the feedback sitting right in front of them every day. Parents with a child who is regularly transfixed for hours in front of the video game are suddenly shocked when teachers report growing problems at school. The obese patient in the ER with a heart attack seems surprised that his physician’s warnings have come to bear upon his life severely.

Some parents arrive with a tantruming ten-year-old who has been wreaking havoc over their lives for seven years, and only after a true crisis do they seek help. Some parents arrive with a 17-year-old who hasn’t yet picked up her room, carried a dish to the sink or even said thank-you for the endless trips to and from her varied activities…and they have abruptly become worried that she is unprepared for life.

In each of these situations, the pain of life is bearing down hard and fast. Thus, the temptation is to seek immediate and instant solutions. Thus, they want a 100% solution.

Occasionally, these exist. Not often.

And it’s a cheat. To think that you can with some intense, expensive burst of effort…resolve years of ignoring problems or poor results. Usually, this doesn’t work.

The One Percent Solution

The one percent solution is the opposite of the 100% approach. The 1% Solution is not about instant change. It’s not about a quick fix. It’s not about the illusion of change.

It’s not about pretending that you can make substantial shifts in your child’s behavior with an instant “behavior chart,” or bigger threats or more severe consequences. It’s not about surgery to remove a lifetime of poor choices. So, what is it?

  • The 1% Solution is about utilizing one of the fundamental laws of the universe.
  • The 1% solution is about change that produces a small result every single day.
  • The 1% solution is about the power of sustained effort over time…producing compounding results that must be viewed from the long-term perspective rather than the short-term perspective.
  • The 1% solution is about HABITS… HABITS that produce happiness, success, and fulfillment.

Many folks tend to shrug their shoulders at the notion of a one percent daily shift in the effort. Yet, the wise know that this is foolishness. Let’s just imagine for a moment that you are about to invest 1% more each and every day for one year. One each day, you now get accumulate the results from each prior day. At the end of one year, you have increased your investment by how much? Perhaps you are thinking 50 percent better, or 100 percent better? Maybe 1000 percent (10 times) better?

Nope. You would have experienced a 3,700 % improvement or gain. That’s right: 37 times better with just one percent a day.

Most of us fail to take advantage of this with our personal lives, our children, and our investments. We fail to see the impact of compounding our efforts daily with investing just a small amount more each day. Those who do, however, end up reaping great rewards.

In next week’s article, I will delve deeper into this simple approach, to explore how you can bring this into practical strategies for you and your family. Until then, pull out a pad and start taking notes on reality. Where might you be in denial, overlooking accumulating problems and seeking some future instant solution or change? Where might you be waiting for your child to ‘just grow out of it” so you don’t have to do anything differently? Where might you be hoping that you find that crazed motivation to exercise fanatically as they do on that infomercial? Where might you be withholding love or affection awaiting others to offer you the floodgates of love first, so you can then be free to love?

These are only a few examples of where we might be falsely awaiting the magical, rarely manifesting, instant solution. Note these, and then realize that perhaps we need to point ourselves in another direction. Start to embrace the truth behind, “Nothing replaces sustained, incremental efforts compounded over time.”