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2019: The 1% Rule

The Power of small Habits

Whether you are just starting your puppet venture or if you are a seasoned veteran looking to hone your skills, it all starts with habits. Habits are the stepping stones used to reach your goals.

Too often we set lofty goals for ourselves and then we try to take big leaps to reach those goals and when we miss the mark we give up. It’s not the big leaps that get us where we want to be most of the time, it’s the little steps forward and upward that get us there.

The New Year is just around the corner so I thought in this post I would discuss something that will help you get things in order to have a more productive year. This isn’t just in your puppetry either, but in your whole life.

Self Judgement

First I want to talk a little about self judgement. The most common thing to hold us back from reaching our goals is the judgements that we put on ourselves. Whether it’s our performance, our organizational skills, our weight, doesn’t matter. Often times, the worst critic is the one that stares back at us from the mirror.

Marginal Gains

A man by the name of Dave Brailsford has a concept of habit forming that he calls “the aggregation of marginal gains”. What this means, in short, is that we achieve our goals best and most effectively in smaller habits; every step gets us closer to where we want to be.

The attached video has the full story of how his theory helped Team Sky (from the UK) win the Tour de France. The video is almost an hour long and doesn’t have anything about puppetry n it, but James Clear is a mentor of mine and has helped me so much to get focused and to stop beating myself up for not reaching my goals. If you get a chance to watch it, it is worth the watch.

Basic Math

Like James talks about in the video, 1% each day adds up. It’s basic math, as he puts it. If you improve just 1.01% per day for 365 days, that is a 37.78% improvement by the end of the year, but if you were to only do .99% for 365 days, that is .03%. WHen I was working in the insurance business, we learned about the concept of compounding interest. Every amount you add, no matter how small, adds to the next one and starts to create a snowball effect, This goes both ways though.

Everytime that you don’t drill into your team the importance of proper performance when you see them not properly doing the basics, you are diminishing their performance by allowing that 1% to be negative and not positive. Concern yourself with the 1% and the rest will work itself out.


Instead of concentrating on the bigger goals, develop small habits. Whatever habit you are trying to achieve, anchor it to something. For example, if you are trying to be more organized, start by making your bed every morning before you do anything else, after a few times, it becomes second nature, then you move to not leaving your desk without straightening it up, then move to your files and on and on. Eventually you will find yourself more organized. If you want to be a better ventriloquist, make a small habit of practicing in the mirror while you are brushing your teeth, shaving, etc. Soon you will find yourself practicing in the car on your way to work, but it starts with anchoring it to something specific; you know that while you are getting ready for bed, whatever, you are practicing, it becomes second nature.


We all have bad habits that we need to get rid of to achieve our goals. In order to do this, we can’t just get rid of them, we have to replace them with a good habit. I know this is easier said than done, but, by using the concept just discussed, you can get rid of a bad habit by anchoring it to a negative outcome. Use the negative outcome as an anchor for a new habit to take its place.

Example, I had a problem with leaning my puppet on the stage. Now I don’t suggest this and have never suggested this to any of my students, this was just me and it worked, but I would put a thumbtack in the belly area of the puppet. As long as I was off the stage, I was fine but if my puppet started leaning on the stage, the thumb tack would poke into my arm. To reinforce this, I loved Kit Kats and if I went an entire practice without getting poked, I ate the Kit Kat, but only if I didn’t get poked.

Take Action

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I would suggest start by watching the video. James Clear, though a mentor of mine, has no clue as to who I am, I just enjoy his work and it has helped me. He also has a great book on the same subject. Make a goal this year to focus on the 1% and reward yourself for your growth.


I know this post wasn’t my normal fair, but I want you to start this new year right and achieve your goals. Make this year your best ever.


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