CEO Confidential: Focus on Getting One Percent Better Every Day



The only reason top Nascar drivers are the best is because they are one percent better than the competition every lap. For me, that is the Vistage CEO peer group advisory experience. It’s continually asking how can I be that one percent better for my business, my family, the

community, and myself?


There are so many facets in our life where we can gain a slight edge. From a health perspective, it can be as simple as remembering to breathe, not putting that one spoonful of sugar in your coffee, storing floss where you can easily reach it, or drinking that extra cup of water. It becomes a lot easier to master when you take a step back and ask how can I be one percent better this moment?


Think of all the moments you experience throughout the day. It opens up so many possibilities. The majority of the Vistage group members I coach are on a journey of

mindfulness and meditation in various stages. They are beginning to really understand the power of what it means to live in the moment and what that does for us as human beings.


Take a look at our member check-in from a recent Vistage meeting. It’s an exercise we do to gauge what is going on with each other professionally and personally in that moment. Sometimes it’s a scale of 1 to 10 or scoring from A to F. In this case, I asked them to draw their emojis. Ultimately, what we’re doing is coming into the space to help members deal with the tough stuff going on in their life and figure out where to start with one percent gains.



Improvement happens all the time with Vistage members at various stages, but it’s rarely big

flashing neon signs. That’s okay because you can’t underestimate the long game – just about

any positive change is incremental and cumulative, particularly in the questioning space.


From the CEO perspective, a key factor that can always get better is asking questions at more

significant and imaginative levels. A good place to kick that off is simply remembering to ask a question versus the world where you tell everyone what to do. If you’re going to dictate or

delegate 10 things, throw in one question such as:


“What do you think about this? How do you feel about that?”


Next, try to weave two questions into the mix. The goal is getting to the point where you’re

asking a lot more questions than making statements.


This progression into a world of curiosity and question asking is where I tend to find the highest amount of growth and development in the leaders I coach. You don’t need to have all the answers. There is always an opportunity to think about how to make an impactful query instead of just chasing down a status update.


The one percent gains don’t start and end with you. As a CEO, it means you are out in the

community leading at higher levels and applying powerful tools, techniques, and strategies on the ground at your company.


One of the main reasons I became a Vistage Chair is because I know our work permeates throughout members’ organizations and their families. Their employees are able to thrive and make a larger contribution to the community because their leader is trying to be one percent better every day.

About the Author:

I am a Vistage CEO Peer Group Chair and Founder of PeopleSurge, a business advisory company. I strive to elevate business leaders and enrich their journey to pave a path forward. I can be reached Kirk.McMillan@VistageChair.com.

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Kirk McMillan

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©2019 Kirk McMillan