John D. Rockefeller was the richest Christian to date. At his peak his wealth was 1.5% to 2% of the U.S’s GDP (his personal wealth $1.4 billion; the US GDP $92 billion).
His philanthropy equated to hundreds of millions of dollars (billion adjusted for inflation).
He was also very adept at tracking EVERYTHING. For example, he had a love of numbers and accounting, so early on he decided to apply the same accounting to his own life. He paid a dime for a small red book, called it Ledger A, and recorded all receipts and expenditures. He tracked and was careful not to waste a dime.
This habit of tracking every penny aided him well in his business career.
One particular instance is when he inspected a Standard Oil plant in NY that filled and sealed five-gallon tin cans of kerosene for export. After watching a machine solder caps to the cans, he asked the resident expert how many drops of solder was used.
The expert replied, “Forty.”
Rockefeller replied, “Would you mind having some sealed with thirty-eight and let me know?”
When they used thirty-eight drops there was a leak, but not at thirty-nine. So thirty-nine became the standard. It had a tremendous impact. According to Rockefeller,
“That one drop of solder saved $2,500 the first year, but the export business kept on increasing after that and doubled, quadrupled–became immensely greater than it was then; and the saving has gone steadily along, one drop on each can, and has amounted since to many hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Here’s the lesson: it wasn’t a sweeping overhaul that translated to hundred of thousands of dollars. It was one drop. It was a marginal gain that led to tremendous results.
Marginal Gains = Massive Results
Marginal gains is defined as “small incremental improvements in any process adding up to a significant improvement when they are all added together.”
The concept was popularized in British cycling with their new performance director Dave Brailsford in 2002. Before he came on the scene British cycling endured 100 years of mediocrity. In fact, they only won ONE gold medal in its 76 year history.
Brailsford was looking to change that.
He was going to improve every area related to cycling by 1%. He believed those small gains would add up to remarkable results. He started by improving the obvious:
- The nutrition of the riders
- The weekly training programs
- The bike seats
- The weight of the tires
But then he went for the NOT so obvious.:
- He discovered the pillows that offered the best sleep and took them to hotels.
- He found the most efective massage gel.
- He taught the riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection.
- He redesigned the team bus to promote comfort and recuperation.
- They asked riders to wear electrically heated overshorts to maintain ideal muscle temperature.
Everything was tested so it could be improved.
Of course, there were people that laughed but the results couldn’t be denied.
Within 5 years the British Cycling team dominated the road and track cycling events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where they won 60% of the gold medals
During the ten-year span from 2007 to 2017, British cyclists won 178 world championships and 66 Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and captured 5 Tour de France victories in what is widely regarded as the most successful run in cycling history.
How does this relate to you?
Simply this: if you were to get 1% better each day by the end of the year you would be 37 times better. And consequently if you get 1% worse each day you’ll whittle down to zero.a
But this concept of “marginal gains” is not new to successful Christian millionaires.
S. Truett Cathy the founder of Chick-Fil-A was very into experimentation and improvement. He was always look for the “perfect finishing touch.” According to him:
“One of the first things I learned in the restaurant business, many years before I started working with boneless chicken breasts, was to find out what my customers wanted then provide it for them. Today we call it ‘consumer research.’ Back then I just called it ‘knowing my customers.’ So when I tried various ways of preparing the boneless skinless chicken breasts, I always offered samples to customers and asked for their opinions.
I tried a lot of different seasonings, and each time I changed the recipe, I asked customers how they liked it and what they thought I might change to make it better. After a couple of years experimenting, I was using more than twenty ingredients. (That was in the day Colonel Sanders was touting his eleven secret herbs and spices.) I wanted the flavor to be unique and difficult for someone to copy…
Sliced bread didn’t stand up to the chicken, so I tried it on a hamburger bun. and mayonnaise got hot and kind of dissolved away, so I tried butter. As I closed in on the right recipe for the meat, customers told me they wanted a bit more zest. Instead of adding more spice to the seasoning, I tried two dill pickles. My customers loved it. They said it wad the perfect finishing touch. So the boneless breast of chicken sandwich was born.” ( How Did You Do It Truett)
We always look for big improvements, great leaps of faith, and huge overhauls. But could it be that’s why God says:
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and He delighteth in his way.” (Psalms 37:23 KJV)
While others are looking for the NEXT BIG THING, what 1% of your life can you change today?