Elder Michael A. Dunn: ‘One Percent Better’

Elder Michael A. Dunn, General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke during the Sunday afternoon session of October 2021 general conference. He explored how making smaller, 1% improvements helps lead to making larger changes. The following is a summary of what he said.

Notable quotes from Elder Dunn

“Even if the changes needed in your life are wholesale, begin at a small scale.”
“Instead of trying to perfect everything, what if we tackled just one thing?”
“Because every effort to change we make — no matter how tiny it seems to us — just might make the biggest difference in your life.”

Summary of Elder Dunn’s talk

The strategy that helped change the British cycling team from perpetually losing to consistently winning wasn’t a dramatic, overnight turnaround. The strategy coach Dave Brailsford referred to as “the aggregation of marginal gains” entailed implementing small improvements in everything. 

Said Brailsford, “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by just 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

How could this 1% principle apply to a principle like repentance? 

“Rather than being stymied by the churn and dramatic swings between sin and repentance, what if our approach was to narrow our focus — even as we broadened it? Instead of trying to perfect everything, what if we tackled just one thing?”

For this approach to work, “there must be a consistent, day in and day out effort.” Look at what is stagnating or blocking the covenant pathway, and then look broader to “seek modest but makeable fixes.”

“Because every effort to change we make — no matter how tiny it seems to us — just might make the biggest difference in your life.”

About Elder Dunn

  • Elder Michael A. Dunn was sustained as a General Authority Seventy in the April 2021 general conference. Prior to his call, he was managing director of of BYUtv and BYUradio.
  • For their 30th anniversary, Elder Dunn and his wife, Sister Linda Dunn, competed together in an Ironman — a triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile run. They have run more than 50 marathons combined, including several 100-mile ultramarathons. 
  • He served as a young missionary in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission. Elder and Sister Dunn served as mission leaders in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission from 2014 to 2017.

Read more October 2021 general conference coverage