Saturday, 6 August 2011

Tour de France/how to be fabulously successful

Although it's early August, I'm still suffering withdrawal from the Tour de France. If it wasn't cruelly inhuman for the riders, wouldn't it be wonderful as a two month race? Ah, the fields of sunflowers. Oooh, those glorious mountains. Eeek, the men in lycra. To recapture some of that Tour feeling, this week I read Ned Boulting's How I won the yellow jumper. He's a sports reporter who has worked on the Tour since 2003, and the book is witty and readable.

Yet the idea that jumped out at me was in a description of British cycling legend Chris Boardman.

"Chris has a habit of applying an aggregation of marginal gains to almost everything he turns his hand to," writes Ned. What a fabulous way to describe how a succesful person gets that way. He likes to do everything a little bit better than average, or perhaps a little bit better than other people. And he makes a habit of it.

After a week, a month, or a lifetime of doing everything just a little bit better than others two things probably ensue: a) you might piss some folk off and b) you will end up sitting on some good successes. Assuming you can sort a) out, you may well end up with a track record along the lines of Chris Boardman: Olympic gold medalist, world record holder, yellow jersey winner.


  1. I really love this quote, and your take on it! And since I so often connect things with the writing process, this is inspiring. Not only in terms of trying to do things just a bit better than average, but also in terms of how "marginal gains" can accumulate; i.e. writing just a little bit each day (at least) whether it's great or even crummy... at least the words and sentences begin to build up. (I say this as I am obviously reading the internet instead of writing... erp. I'm off to write a sentence or two now... thank you for the inspiration! :))

  2. Dawna, you make a great point. I need to go and make some marginal gains of my own!