The Slight Edge

"No matter in what arena, in life or work or play, the difference between winning and losing, the gap that separates success and failure, is so slight, so subtle, that most never see it."

- The Slight Edge, page 87

This is the philosophy behind The Slight Edge written by Jeff Olson, which begins with a very relatable and engaging personal story of how we all – at some point in our lives – find ourselves at life’s crossroads landing in a place where our previous choices and decisions delivered us. But is it the path you want to be on? He knew that in order to change, things had to change. He had to change. And that’s when he discovered the slight edge.

The Golden Egg

Golden Egg: The biggest takeaway from the book

Where Are You Heading?

"As you walk your path, it is always, every moment of every day, curving either upward or downward."
- The Slight Edge, page 142

When Jeff, a beach bum at the time, had his moment, he also had a remarkable breakthrough. He realized that the secret between spending his life as a beach bum or a millionaire lay in the simple actions he made every day giving him the slight edge. When we are failing, he discovered, we will do whatever it takes to get ourselves moving upward again. However, once we are successful, there is a natural tendency in all of us to become complacent and start to fail. We go up and down on this wavy course never really allowing ourselves to push through to success. Why do we stop doing the things that made us successful in the first place? Jeff argues that all we need to do we already know – they are simple actions – we just need to keep doing them, not give up, and over time, we will succeed.

Gem #1

An actionable way to implement the BIG takeaway (Golden Egg) into your life

What is the Slight Edge? It’s Simple.

"You could call these 'little virtues' or 'success habits'. I call them simple daily disciplines. Simple productive actions, repeated consistently over time. That, in a nutshell, is the slight edge."
- The Slight Edge, page 10

Okay, really? Is that it? He believes it is – and has convinced me I can do this too. He has a very powerful, motivational expression he uses throughout the book: “Easy to do – but just as easy not to do.” Usually I find an author who keeps repeating a singular quote counterproductive – meaning, it becomes forgettable because I wish to ignore it. But in this case, Jeff’s repeating of this one powerful line worked. I will never forget it. It really stuck. So much so that now when I stretch to hit the snooze button on my morning alarm while ignoring my running shoes guiltily staring at me from the floor, I hear what I imagine Jeff’s voice to be in my head repeating “easy to do, just as easy not to do.” He is very persuasive. I have actually started getting up earlier than my husband {gasp!} and am running in the mornings. I know. I can’t believe it either. But it’s better than arguing with Jeff, because he is right, of course. It is easy not to do and go back to bed. But it was just as easy to get up (okay, full disclosure, perhaps not easy the first time. However, it did get easier). 

Jeff had already changed my life and I was only on Chapter 4. I couldn’t put this book down. Then I read this next little GEM and was blown away.

Gem #2

An actionable way to implement the BIG takeaway (Golden Egg) into your life

The Seven Daily Disciplines For Success

"Consistently repeated daily actions + time = unconquerable results."
- The Slight Edge, page 65

Wow. Think about that for a moment. Let that one sink in because it is something you need to think about everyday to make the slight edge work for you. All those little decisions – the small, quiet choices we make when no one is looking – ultimately decide our life’s direction. 

They may seem insignificant (who is going to know if I hit snooze?), they may seem not to matter today (it’s just one day – who cares?). But they DO add up. They DO matter. If I had hit snooze once again, my path begins to curve downward. When I chose to get up and run, I made a positive choice toward my goal and my path begins to curve upward – and if I keep doing that consistently, I will see results. It is inevitable.

Even with my distaste for math, I can see that equation works.

Bottom line: Every day we are either moving towards the direction we desire or further away from it based on the decisions we make which determine where we end up. No one fails overnight – nor do you succeed overnight (Hollywood endings aside). The real life difference is in creating our own formula of daily disciplines in seven areas for success that we decide and then design for ourselves.

Here’s the best news. You can start anytime you choose. You can (and should) start right now, knowing that compounding interest math example I gave you earlier and Jeff’s voice now in your head, too – “Easy to do – just as easy not to do.” (You’re welcome.)

Here are the seven disciplines Jeff identifies as the areas we need to work on daily: your health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career and our impact on the world. 

There is a helpful little worksheet in the last few pages of the book to write notes on your goals and how you plan to get there and putting a deadline to those goals. The real work starts after you make that goal list with dates. I’m already paying more attention to keeping my goals in front of me and making sure that every day I do something to move me a little closer to reaching them – to keep moving my curve upward. We don’t need to make huge quantum leaps – there are none. I was reminded of this Chinese proverb while reading how to start incorporating the slight edge everyday: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” This book was my first step – and an excellent one – on my path to reaching my goals. 

Here is a little exercise for you that Jeff asked in the book – considering the seven disciplines (health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career and your impact on the world) – do you feel you are moving up or down in each of those categories currently? How would you change your path to move upwards in the areas that need adjusting? Ready to get started? It’s easy to do.

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Amy Graver

ABOUT Amy Graver

I am the owner and Creative Director of Elements, my design agency that I started January 1999. During my day job, I oversee all projects the that come through the studio...
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