2-25-21: The Leap Cycle of Improvement

Sent 2/25/2021

Today's Think Better Newsletter introduces the Leap Cycle of improvement. (This is the central idea of Chapter 1, which you may have already read. But I was asked if I had something everyone can share, so I'm using this newsletter for that purpose. Plus I can use images with color here :)

The Idea

The better we can visualize what we are doing, the more likely we will be to make good decisions and do high quality work. The Leap Cycle is a mental model for how improvement happens. It gives us a framework to better understand the relationship between the quality of the work we do today and the success we have in the future. 

The Leap Cycle with each phase shaded

There are three distinct phases (and two transition periods). Below I've included the description from the book about what those stages feel like.

1. Build: For some period of time, you won’t see much difference. It still feels linear. This period lasts months, cannot be avoided, and is completely normal.
1-to-2. Build to Leap: Things start to feel a bit easier. You feel a little better at the end of hard workouts. You finish a little stronger at the end of some races. You aren’t significantly better than before, but you’re consistently performing well. Something is working.
2. Leap: You find yourself competing with people who were formerly better than you. You start blasting big PRs. You feel like a new person with new powers, but you also have some doubts because you don’t know the extent of your ability. You begin systematizing many areas of your life to ensure you don’t lose these new powers.
2-to-3. Leap to Sustain: You enter races knowing you are going to run well and you feel you belong at this new level. It feels like a failure to imagine a performance at your previous level. Your improvement energizes you to stay disciplined and maintain your newfound ability. You’re having a lot of fun.
3. Sustain: You are reaching your upper limit. Your old training group and competitors are in the rearview mirror. So are poor performances, which you’ve mostly eliminated. However, you aren’t seeing many improvements, despite your hard work. It starts to look and feel linear once more. Again, this cannot be avoided and is completely normal.

The Sustain phase isn't where it ends. If you can find a way to improve your training again, you can transition into your next Build phase.

This is important because the better you appreciate how improvement happens, the more you can draw on that understanding to keep you going when it gets tough.

The System

Here are 3 key things to keep in mind as you work toward making your next leap.

1. Consistency really is the key. It's easy to get enamored by the way somebody bursts onto the scene or a video goes viral. But A) that doesn't really happen in most fields and B) even viral sensations typically have a lot of consistent, unseen work at their foundations. Consistency will lead to success, and the results you achieve can be just as dynamic.

2. Daily improvement is the goal. But that's not enough! You have to retain that improvement. Anything you can do that keeps you from slipping backwards is fundamentally contributing to you making a leap. In training I call this the Hidden Training Program...all the things you really need to do to be successful.

3. The Leap Cycle can be repeated. To transition from Sustain to Build, you simply need to find a way to increase your quality. Maybe you can do more, maybe you can do it harder, maybe you can simply recover better. But each Leap Cycle is preceded by a sustained improvement of some kind. 

The Question

What is an area where you can improve your consistency? (You know what you need to do ;)


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast

“I'm confident to say that if you want to grow in a profession, consistency is the key. I'm strict about my work goals and training.”
- Eliud Kipchoge


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