Every day he looks for an area of his health he can improve by just 1%. It doesn't seem like much, but he is more than happy with his results.
Whether that means eating half of the packet of Doritos, pushing out one more rep on the Dumbbell Bench Press or walking up the 5 flights of stairs in the office instead of taking the elevator. To him, it all counts.
All the small wins add up to something bigger.
He knows his health is important but can't seem to get any lasting results. He trains hard and eats overly clean, but has his diet 'off days' (which happen far too often), exercises sporadically and can't get into a routine. Frustratingly, he finds his fitness has stalled or could even possibly be going downhill.
For Dave, it's the all or nothing approach we are all used to. Small wins aren't sexy. Go big or go home. He picks up a difficult workout routine and diet to follow, which looks good on paper, but can't be sustained. Then... relapse.
If we plot the two men's physique results on a graph, you can see the obvious difference.
Success is built on compounding small wins.
This could be expanded well beyond the realms of fitness, but I'll leave that for someone else to write. In fact, James Clear wrote a great piece on the concept of the aggregation of marginal gains.
Small wins aren't sexy.
They go by unnoticed, don't get celebrated and are never really mentioned in conversation.
"Hey, I ate one more piece of broccoli than I did yesterday" said no-one ever.
But they are freakishly important.
They are often the thing separating you from your physique idols. The guys and girls who make you stop and stare in admiration as you scroll through your Facebook feed.
You can follow their exact workout program, yet you probably won't look like them.
It's not what these people are doing in the gym, or any of the stuff they post on social media. It's what happens off camera. The years of hard work before they attained their physique, saying no to dessert for the 1000th time, getting up at 5.30am to train before work, meal prepping the same food again and again, counting calories, doing mobility work, sleeping 8 hours a night, bringing their own food to parties... the list is endless.
The little 1% things matter in the long run. They separate you from your goal physique.
But, it has to start with you.
You can't post the little things on social media and expect to get a round of applause (you can, if you want). These are the hundreds of daily decisions which happen internally at a moments notice. 'Stairs or elevator' isn't a political discussion at the UN, it's a split-second decision which is entirely within your power.
What is something that you can do 1% better than yesterday?
Swap the fries for vegetables?
Don't mindlessly watch TV and go to bed 15 minutes earlier?
Choose a healthy office snack rather than reach for the closest thing available?
Take 10 minutes to stretch your hips, shoulders and back after lunch?
Swap the Coke for Zero or Diet?
Say no to that extra beer you don't need?