Control the controllables

Known for his calmness at the helm, Mahendra Singh Dhoni captained the Indian National Cricket team for ten years

Control the controllables

Known for his calmness at the helm, Mahendra Singh Dhoni captained the Indian National Cricket team for ten years, during which India won the inaugural edition of the Men’s T20 World Cup, the 2011 Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy in addition to winning the Asia Cup in 2010 and 2016.

 I’ve recently been inspired by a short interview with Dhoni published on YouTube by Jaspal Singh Rathore the founder of Learn with Jaspal, where Dhoni who reveals the secret to his calmness under pressure: The Secret of M.S Dhoni’s Calmness – YouTube. Dhoni talks about competitive pressure and by unfocusing on the result and controlling the controllables, the result will look after itself. 

Dhoni says: “Thinking about the result, never gets you the result.” While it’s important to have a target, “taking care of the controllables will get the desired result. If we don’t get the desired result, we will improve.” 

This approach resonated given the increasing pressure faced by many franchised businesses given the dramatic recent rise in energy and supply costs. There is no-doubt the market is suddenly a tougher place to do business at the moment, but we can only keep calm and work on improving the aspects of business we are in control of. 

At Papa Johns, we are always looking for ways to up our game and work with our franchisees to help them run even better businesses. I’m working with our network of franchisees at the moment on a concentrated effort to make many small improvements. In this way, we can make great even better. 

I’m intrigued by how taking small steps can acquire accumulative advantage. The New York Times bestselling author of Atomic Habits, James Clear writes about the margin between winning a gold medal in sport or not can come down to 100th of a second. Margins are tiny and so small gains can make all the difference. Actually, when added together a 1% daily improvement adds up to a lot over a year! 

He cites the example of James Brailsford, the coach who was brought on to improve the performance of the British Cycling team. At the time, British Cycling was in a pretty poor state. Only one gold medal in nearly 100 years and no British rider had ever won cycling’s most prestigious event: the Tour de France. James Brailsford went after ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’ which means searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do. 

He was relentless leaving no stone unturned, from painting the inside of the transportation vehicle white to spot any dust which might interfere with the finely tuned equipment, to using better massage gel, to the type of pillow used to improve sleep! Within five years, the British Cycling team’s fortunes had been turned around and in 2008 in Beijing, Britain won eight gold medals. Within another four years, they had set nine Olympic records and seven world records and finally won the Tour de France.

James Clear goes on to reconfirm that: “Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.” It doesn’t but tiny improvements over the long term can result in remarkable success. The British Cycling Team’s story is a fascinating example.

So as a franchise owner I’d like to challenge you to try and make a 1% improvement every day. At first you may not notice a difference. However, after a year you will be 37 times better. So my message is, keep calm and carry on improving! Good luck!

Amit Pancholi
Amit Pancholi