The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson is the first book in my “Bible” because it is all about the one concept that determines your quality of life more than any other and feeds into the principles and values taught in all of the rest of the books in my Bible.
If I were to summarize the concept of this book in one sentence it would be this:
A person’s success in any area of their life is determined by making simple decisions, consistently over a long period of time.
Some examples of simple yet sometimes difficult decisions are:
- Waking up early
- Going for a run
- Eating an apple instead of a cookie
- Replying to an email right away instead of putting it off
- Reading before you go to sleep
- Saying “I love you” to your wife or child before you leave for work
These seemingly small decisions that have minimal effect at the moment you make them compound over time to determine the quality of your life.
You see, although our effort may follow a linear path, our progress in life does not. It follows an exponential one.
Very often there is a new superstar musician, athlete or business owner that surfaces from the unknown seemingly overnight. How is it that someone becomes an “overnight” success? The truth is, they are building a gigantic foundation for years and years and the success that you see is only the tip of the iceberg supported by millions of small, everyday decisions compounded over time.
It works the same way as compounding interest on a bank account. If you start with 1 penny and double it every day for just 30 days you would end up with $10.7M!
THAT is the power of compounded interest and compounded efforts.
Unfortunately, the Slight Edge works the same way in reverse. If you sleep in every day, never exercise nor eat right; one day you will wake up and wonder what went wrong with your scale and your bank account.
The great thing is, that if you ever stumble and stop making those correct choices, you can immediately jump back on the wagon the next day, hour or minute!
We all know that we should do these things that are good for us but actually doing them is another matter all together. How do we get from knowledge to action and results? Thankfully, Jeff has laid a system out for us to follow:
The 1st step is to stop blaming others for our circumstances and recognize that we own the responsibility for creating the life we choose. To work backwards from the lifestyle we desire, we must have the discipline to take the actions that will yield those results. In order to take those actions we must have the right mental attitude which will motivate us to do what must be done. For us to maintain a positive attitude for long periods of time we must hold a philosophy in our mind that is based on sound principles and values that we know to be true. Jeff goes on to expand upon his principles as follows:
The 7 Slight Edge Principles
- Show up – Even if you can’t give 100% effort you just have to get started. Many goals remain dreams because the 1st step was never taken.
- Be Consistent – Expanding on #1. While just showing up may put you ahead of 50% of the crowd, it’s the consistent efforts over time that builds the momentum needed for great change.
- Have a Good Attitude – To maintain a good attitude you must actively focus on the things you can control and see the positive side of every situation, not the negative. Remember that every challenge yields experience that helps you be more prepared for future troubles.
- Be Committed for A Long Period of Time – When you hit a bump in the road or start to lose that initial momentum what will you do? Know from the start that there will be downs and not just ups so when you hit that bump you will not quit. Anything worth doing takes a long time so be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint. Remember the iceberg!
- Have Faith and a Burning Desire – What is your why? Do you have a family to care for? An interest that lights a fire in your belly? Maybe your goal will bring great joy and peace to others. Whatever it is, you need something behind your goals to keep that desire strong.
- Be Willing to Pay The Price – What’s comfortable early becomes uncomfortable later and what’s uncomfortable now becomes comfortable later. Realize that the price you pay with neglect is always more than the price of taking action towards your goals. Invest in your future!
- Practice Slight Edge Integrity – What do you do when no one is watching? Do you flip to Facebook when your boss is out of the office? Do you sneak to the snack drawer when your spouse isn’t home? Be a person of integrity at all times. Do what must be done, when it has to be done in the way it must be done.
There you have it. A simple concept that we all understand but most of us fail to live by. Focus on integrating these principles into your life and you will adopt the attitude required to take the actions that lead to the results and lifestyle that you desire.