How to use 4% and stand out

I just experienced my third solar eclipse and it made me reflect on why a difference of just 4% can make such a big difference in this world and how it provides opportunities to stand out in business.

Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.

— Kim Collins

Did you also manage to get out of the office to take a peek of the experience? For those that did managed to see this recent Eclipse through the use of self-made optical projection devices, protective glasses and telescopes it seems to have created a mixed reaction. The Danish eclipse covered us by 81.7%. I noticed the shadows get longer, the temperature drop and a slight dusk sensation to the light. The birds did not seem too effected and life resumed to normal over the course of a couple of hours. I enjoyed the experience but knew what 100% feels like. Some of my neighbors and peers had mixed reactions, the media does a great job selling an eclipse but they often show the stand out experience of 100% totality.

Solar Eclipse
Solar Eclipse

This brings me back to the second eclipse I witnessed was in Peru back in 1995. I managed to persuade a few of my climbing partners to drop some climb plans and go to the location where we gained the best exposure. Here an annular eclipse gave us the experience of about 97% totality. We noticed the temperature drop have fun looking through our protective lenses to track the moons progression and enjoyed a great few hours with some friends.  You can tell from the description that the difference between the Danish and Peru eclipse was mostly to be experienced via technical equipment rather than other visual effects or emotions.

The first total (100%) eclipse I experienced (I emphasize the work experienced), was in Bolivia, 1994. I had not intended to see it but was “sold” after a chance meeting with an eclipse chaser (well they have hurricane chasers-here I met their solar counter parts). I can only describe the experience as magical, interesting, and unforgettable. The location was the same as a team from NASA and several tour groups of eclipse chasers. The experience of seeing day turn to night and back into day within a couple of couples is a joy that is unique. We saw the stars and planets, birds fly back to their nests, dogs and donkeys calling out loud and even fish jumping up out of the water during this time of eclipse. To see the shadow of the moon race across the landscape and hit you at several thousand miles per hour and have an instant change in temperature across the skin on your body. It was educational and a true bucket list life experience – try it. Those extra 3- 4% of the eclipse gave unique dimensions and insights that stand out and remain with me forever.

Different motorbike lean angle image
Motorcycle Lean Angles

A passion of mine is motorbike racing; here we can see where the 4% difference creates huge performance differences. Take a look at the below lean angle achieved by the different race classes and you can see how minor changes in the bikes design enables more lean to allow a rider retain a higher speed when passing through a series of corners, these small differences equate to huge time lap performance differences of several seconds per lap at different race circuits. The difference is also seen in the ability of each rider. Within MotoGP a field between 18-24 riders competes and they finish approximately 40 seconds spreading across the field after 26 laps racing. The differences are made up from prototype technology finding an extra 1 or 2% performance + the rider’s consistency may add another 1+2% performance difference and suddenly you see the stand out riders and racing legends.

Which golf, F1, running, swimming, football, cricket, rugby, soccer, and handball and tennis sports are you familiar with? Your intimate knowledge of the sport can provide a great story in leadership to communicate the importance of the small 4% differences between second and first place.

How are you taking these approaches into your own business? Imagine saving your procurement costs by 2% + increasing sales by 3% + improving operational efficiency and fixed costs by 2%. Rapidly you see where and how the small differences add to the pot of profit fortune. We like big headlines and large figures as they demonstrate keen insight to real opportunities and help a business stride at a faster rate than its competitors.  Do you have part of your business seeking a 20-30% cost reduction program whilst continuing its other areas of business as normal? The whole success and dependency on the business rides on the big project and yet faster implementation of the same net results may be gained by trimming and improving your other areas of business operations by 4%.

4% Action Steps to stand out in 2 simple areas:

1)      TIME: Do you have some meeting currently running for 30minutes? Try a stand up meeting policy for a month and see if you still require the full 30minutes?

2)      SYSTEMS: Review your operational and administration systems to identify repetitive tasks. With some simple new trained skills your staff may become more proficient at faster data entry, automating current tasks.


We see everyday examples of how and where a small 4% difference makes the outstanding performers stand out. By seeking continual small improvements in parallel to the larger goals a competitive edge can be gathered, maintained and help positive cultural influence within the business organization.

Right now take a short moment to scroll down and leave a comment where you have seen a small change in business process or tasks that lead to a greater result and outcome. Then share this article to anyone you think will find it relevant and interesting. I look forward to hearing from you. Please join over 1500 others on twitter and follow JAMSO on LinkedIn here .

Additional references and tips

96% Eclipse of the Sun

Total Eclipse of the Sun in Bolivia 1994

Denmarks eclipse (goto 1hr 57mins to view)

MotoGP Lean Angle video

Are you opening slow excel files?  Use this reference to speed up your excel sheets

Tips to make small changes in business operations

Tips to improve Excel skills

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