Small Changes can make a big difference

Rob has been asked to investigate companies and find out what the star performers are doing differently to the mediocre performers and this book is all about his findings and also a lot of scientific experiments that have been done to work out what makes exceptional people.

Small Changes can make a big difference

Hi all

I am reading a wonderful new book called “the Extra one Per Cent – how small changes make exceptional people” by Rob Yeung. The information I am getting from it is really interesting. Rob has been asked to investigate companies and find out what the star performers are doing differently to the mediocre performers and this book is all about his findings and also a lot of scientific experiments that have been done to work out what makes exceptional people.

One of the first discoveries Rob talks about is during World War 2 when the USAAF was trying to get the right people trained for flying. He talks about a civilian psychologist called John C Flanagan.

Flanagan was charged with trying to investigate in depth why certain trainee pilots made the grade while others fell short. After asking general questions and getting vague answers he changed his tactics and stopped asking general opinions as to why missions succeeded or failed but instead urged the pilots and instructors to talk about specific episodes of triumph or failure in forensic detail with a particular focus on what they did, what they said and what they were thinking at the time. Over time he and his team interviewed tens of thousands of personnel, asking them to describe specific instances in which they succeeded or failed so and as a result his research enabled the USAAF to make better recruitment decisions turning away more candidates that were unlikely to make it through pilot training.

The next example is one where Rob was called into an IT organisation to help work out the difference between the top salesmen and the mediocre salespeople. After interviewing enough people at the technology firm he analysed their stories to understand the trivial differences in behaviour that distinguished high achievers from their less prosperous counterparts. Top key account managers tended to spend more time engaging in social chit chat and building rapport before getting down to business, they were more likely to pick up a phone that send an email, and they tried to influence customers in indirect as well as direct methods.

What Rob has found through all his research is essentially there are 8 traits or behaviours that successful people possess.

Here is the list:

  • Awe
  • Cherishing
  • Authenticity
  • Centredness
  • Connecting
  • Daring
  • Citizenship
  • Visioning

Over the next few blog posts I will go into detail on each of these traits or behaviours as I continue to read the book and find out more of each of these traits.

The trait I am going to work on today is Awe.

The simple description of Awe that is in the book is “Exceptional people aren’t just born more creative – they fuel their imaginations by actively pursuing new experiences and consciously staying open-minded about or ‘in awe’ of, new possibilities. Rather than assuming they know enough about their field or industry, they remain curious and realise that there is always more to learn and consider”

How often do you take the time to look around yourself, to notice the birds in the morning chorus, to take time to read books that feed your mind? Through the 90 day bootcamp I have been encouraged to read daily and have read some of the most amazing books, have started videoing and as a result I am taking time to listen to the world, looking at the amazing nature around me when I am walking to do things like walking to catch the bus. Looking at amazing sunsets and taking note of things all the time.

Rob talks about experiments that were done on observation. The researchers gave the students a task, to count the number of times the ball was passed between members of the team in white. Immediately after watching the film the students were asked to write down how many passes they’d counted. The researchers then asked, ‘did you see anyone else besides the six players appear on the video?’ and ‘did you see a gorilla walk across the screen?’ More than half the participants were puzzled. What gorilla? They hadn’t seen any gorilla.

Another experiment is where another experiment team got people to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. After several pages, there was a half page advert with the words: ‘Stop Counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.’ But most people kept on turning the pages, too engrossed in counting photos to see the answer. A few pages later, another bigger advert proclaimed: ‘Stop counting. Tell the experimenter you’ve seen this and win 150 pounds.’ Again most people didn’t notice it. Oblivious to the cash prize, they diligently carried on with the task despite the answer being literally spelt out in black and white. Only a handful of people spotted the adverts, usually laughing and asking to claim their winnings.

These are powerful experiments showing how the mind is concentrating and really does not take notice of anything outside of our given task. It just shows how narrowly our minds can sometimes work.

Here is another example. Rob asked a group of people if they have time for him to tell them a story, a few of them checked their watches and gave the go-ahead. The next question he asked was what is the time? Despite having just looked at their watches, they were not looking to tell the time. They were looking to see if they had enough time to listen to a story before the end of session.

These examples highlight a phenomenon that psychologists call ‘inattentional blindness’. When we look for one thing, we may fail to notice others. Focusing our attention too intently on any particular goal or direction may blind us to other opportunities.

Do you get focused on doing a task at work, so much so that nothing will interrupt you? The problem with this is that you might not consider whether you can do away with the task entirely.

Selling one product to customers we might not actually see that the world has moved on and people are not interested in that product any longer. If we get too fixed on a specific goal. Get too fixed on a specific goal we may not spot those other openings. Be careful not to have so much focus that you are not able to see other ideas and opportunities.

A good example of this is a creative team that was so busy collecting images from art galleries etc and failed to notice that online companies were selling digital photography at a fraction of the price. As a result this creative team started losing lots of business.

Creativity is defined by Rob as the act of coming up with the act of coming up with ideas that allow us to make a difference to our lives and those of the people around us. We all need it. Creativity allows engineers to build new machines, office workers to devise quicker ways of working, and parents to find new ways of entertaining their children.

Small changes can make a big difference

Rob’s research shows that high achievers take an active decision to stop what they are doing occasionally to ask if there might be an entirely better way of doing it. And we can learn from them. We need to make time to absorb new ideas, to think, to question, speculate and ultimately produce new insights and breakthroughs.

So take out some time in your busy lives to smell the roses, look around you and appreciate life and just think.

What small changes can you make that will make a big difference? One small change you can make that will make a big difference  is to listen to powerful information daily, to read powerful books and of course take time out to look at things from different perspectives.

I have found writing these blogs, doing videos and reading has already made a major difference to me and my confidence.  I am working with an amazing mastermind of people that have had so many breakthroughs over this 90 day boot camp that I am forever in Awe of the achievements.

Sit down at the end of each day and work out what you have achieved and you will be forever amazed at what you can tick off your list.

So what small changes are you going to make to become an exceptional person?

Check out the banners below, leave your email address and together we can work on making small changes to make us into exceptional people.

Have a great day.



Source material for this blog has been "The Extra one percent- how small changes can make big differences" by Rob Yeung

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