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Thinking 1% vs. 10% vs 10x


There are many discussions around how we need to think if we want to be successful.  I have seen guys say to shoot for 1% better each day.  I have heard others say that you should set a goal to be 10% better by a given date and work towards that.  I have also heard people recommend that you have to think 10x bigger than you are today.  Let’s look at each of these styles and you can decide for yourself how you should be thinking.

1% Better Than Yesterday

When I hear people say that we need to be “1% better than yesterday”, I believe they are saying we need to take incremental steps, each day with simple disciplines, for consistent growth.  Think about it…if you can be 1% better every day, then at 100 days you will be 100% better than you were 100 days ago.  Well, the math adds up there, but I believe the percentage is even greater than that.  I believe if we are constantly looking to improve daily, the combination of all the positive things we are doing will be more than 1% better each day.

1% thinking can help you plan your day.  You could ask yourself, “What can I do today to be 1% better than yesterday?”  This will help you identify what simple practice or practices you can commit to today that can help you continue your forward momentum.  In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the 1% Better Than Yesterday mindset, if you use it properly.

10% Better

If you are thinking 10% bigger or better then you are trying to identify what things you can do to be 10% bigger.  Sure you can put some math to this and get down to the right numbers, and true, knowing your numbers are important.  Remember one of Peter’s Laws:  If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.  Knowing your numbers, you can put a plan together to increase your growth by 10%.  That is not a bad approach, but has it challenges.

When I read Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, I read that when you only think 10% bigger, you are competing against everybody.  It means you are staying in the same playing field as everyone else.  Is that really what you want to do?  Do you really want small incremental changes in a competitive industry?  If you do, then 10% better thinking may work for you.  I am not putting it down.  I am merely identify what you will get when you think 10% better.

10x Better

When thinking 10x better, you are, in a sense, starting from scratch.  You have to approach the problem or challenge in a completely different way than all others have approached it.  You have to clearly understand what you are trying to solve and then come up with a 10x creative way to solve it.    This will put you on your own playing field, which can be a great thing if you can draw the crowds.

As mentioned in the Tools for Titans book, 10x thinking can be intimidating as people may think it is 100x harder.  But it rarely is.  However, the rewards from 10x thinking is generally 100x more.  You have to think big to make it big.  Or at least to make it big in a faster fashion.  There is definitely merit in slow and steady wins the race, but at 10x the speed, you can get there 100x faster (yeah..don’t question the math there…it’s sound!!!).

I believe 10x thinking is great when starting a project or when your project has hit a wall.  You have to step back and approach it with new eyes.  It can help you identify new ways of solving the problem, or maybe even eliminating it all together.  Why worry about selling bandaids if you can make a person invincible?  A broad stretch I know, but the principle is sound.  10x thinking can be huge in setting you apart from the competition and putting you on your own playing field.


I think there is value in all forms of thinking mentioned in this post.  I believe 10x thinking is important when you hit a wall or want to solve a problem in a whole new way.  It can set the stage with what you want to accomplish and give you a big, hairy, audacious goal to reach for which will challenge everything you do.  After your 10x thinking on a problem, you can use the 1% thinking to see what you can do each day to put you 1% closer to your goal or the problem you want to solve.  10% thinking has its place too, though it is my least favorite way to think.  I feel like I can outsource the 10% thinking to someone else while I work on the 10x and 1% thinking to drastically improve things.

No matter which approach you take, at least you are thinking.  And thinking is critical for success.  You should always be watching the numbers, re-assessing the problem, and working on daily disciplines to get you where you want to be.  Figure out what style or mixture of styles works for you to get you where you need to be, and then put a plan in action.

Now get started, but whatever you do, don’t forget your thinking cap!!!

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