Thoughts And Observations

The 1% Solution: A Simple Improvement Plan

The 1% Solution: A Simple Improvement Plan

By Michael Steele, Corporate Coach


Live, learn, laugh and improve, are the four tenets in which I try to live my life. By living these concepts, I get the most out of each day and I am able to be my best for myself and others.

When I think about “learning,” I am not only thinking book smart, but also self- awareness because I want to learn more about myself and how I can better serve others. Learning and improvement intertwine as I search for growth and excellence. Normally, the improvement phase begins with setting longer term goals of 3, 6, or 12 months. But, what if we start thinking different today? What if we start thinking of improving just 1% each day? By doing this, we work on continuous improvement, or “kaizen”.

The term “kaizen”, which is a Japanese term for “change for the better” or “continuous improvement,” is rich with history. It was first brought to the United States by William Deming after using it with Toyota in its rebuild of Japan during post-World War II. And, it was the basis for the Total Quality Management (TQM) in the 1990’s.

Tony Robbins, Life Coach and Motivational speaker, brought kaizen to the public with his Unlimited Power programs. Tony developed the acronym: CANI “Constant And Never-ending Improvement. He talks about big goals and belief in yourself. Tony also understands and teaches that to get to the pinnacle of success, it is the little steps on our journey that will take us up the mountain.

Let’s take a look at real life situations and continuous improvement. Small choices don’t seem important at the time, but add up over the long term. If I decide to do 10 push-ups each time I get up from my chair during the day it is not a big deal each time I get up, but over the course of the day and week, it adds up. Over the course of a month, not to mention a year, and I will be seeing results!

If I don’t do my routine of push-ups for one day, it is not a big deal. Yet, if I keep missing those days it will add up over time, become a problem, and get in the way of my planned growth.


Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgement repeated every day. “ ~ Jim Rohn


As you try to make those small 1% improvements each day, the changes will occur slowly and surely. You can gain confidence and experience joy in the process that will lead to the success you want. The weight you want to lose, the writing skills you desire, your speaking with confidence, all can be achieved, if practiced every day, day by day, 1% per day. Consistent small behaviors create long term results.

The excitement of this program is the success you have each day if you execute your commitments. Your 1% growth each day, is your reward, knowing you have put in the effort on your plan. Right now make a list of what is important to you for personal or professional growth. Here is a sample list of my personal list:

  • 100 push ups
  • 30 minutes cardio
  • 5-10minutes of meditation
  • Practice Gratitude
  • 2 random acts of kindness
  • Send some note or email / thanks or hello
  • Give someone you care about a hug
  • Track my post-Dinner eating


This is the list that makes sense for me now. There could be a few more added, like bed by 10:00 to get 7 hours of sleep. A little more reading and writing, and a little less TV, but all in due time. 1% a day on a few things is better than trying to do a lot of things and do nothing on a lot of things.

Change isn’t hard, it is the resistance to change that is the hard part. If we start by committing to the action of 1% more each day, it sounds reasonable. It sounds like it can be done, even to those of us who do not want to commit. I should be able to do that. Yes, I will do it, and when I do those little steps today, it feels great and I want to do it again tomorrow.

Let’s all make a list and a 1% pledge. Each day, make those small steps to our larger goals. Stay in the moment, stay in today, and we will see a great tomorrow. I promise.


Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens-and when it happens, it lasts.”     ~ John Wooden



Michael Steele has used his basketball coaching experience to create winning teams in business and finance. He offers a unique perspective to business leaders and team members looking for the “win.” Click here for more info on Michael.