The Slight Edge Philosophy
Olson quotes Emerson – “Do the thing and you will have the power”. We don’t need any more information, it’s about taking action. However, you cannot just follow the steps, you need to have the right philosophy behind the action.
There are 2 types of attitudes – an attitude of EXPECTATION and an attitude of VALUE. The person with the Expectation attitude expects the reward before they take the action (i.e. “pay me more and then I will do more”). The person with a Value attitude asks how they can do more so that they might get paid more.
However, attitudes are fickle. They can depend on your mood and your situation. This is why you really need to focus on your philosophy. Philosophy is how you think about life, how you think about things, how you think about people.
There is a popular belief in the “break-through”. The book debunks this and says that success is not a result of the “break-through”. Success comes form making the right “slight edge” decisions every day. All the little decisions made every day don’t just make a difference, they make ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
We must have faith in the power of constant small actions.
The Secret of Easy Things
Why do some people make all of their dreams come true, while others don’t?
Why do some people have great family relationships, while others don’t?
Why do some people have a great positive attitude, while others are negative and blame?
Why do some people have great health and fitness, while others don’t?
Why do some people have an abundance of money, while others don’t?
It is because of the Slight Edge. They do all of these seemingly insignificant things well and regularly. They make the right decisions every day – the ones that seem insignificant. All of these decisions compound to give them the massive result, over time.
Only 5% of people achieve their goals and live the life they want to lead.
These decisions are easy to do, but they are also EASY NOT TO DO. They are easy not to do because there is no consequence TODAY if you do not do them, e.g. eat a piece of fruit, go for a walk. This is the trap that people fall into.
We live in a results-orientated world – we expect to get an immediate result from the actions that we take. However, this is not how success works. By the time you get the result, you have already made all the small “slight edge” decisions way back in the past that have compounded over time to get you the result.
The results come from all of the insignificant little things you do every day that no-one will even see and no-one will applaud, except for you. Only you know that it is giving you the long-term benefit.
Every single decision adds to / detracts from your success. Olson is a big believer in Jim Rohn’s teachings. Success = A few simple disciplines practiced every day. Failure = A few error in judgment repeated every day.
The Secret of Time
People believe that it is will power or being in the right frame of mind that gives you the strength to have the discipline to do the little things every day. However, that’s not what it’s about. All you need to do is to understand the power of time.
The belief/knowledge that doing the little things will give you the result over time – it’s as simple as that. Gives the example of the light switch… When you enter a dark room, you reach for the light switch because you know that it will bring light. You don’t have to give yourself positive self-talk or be in the right mood.
We live in a push-button, instant-on world but this violates the natural law… Sow – Cultivate – Harvest. People go to the gym and expect instant results (i.e. Sow – Harvest), and if they don’t get it they quit. This is why people take drugs, take steroids, rob banks, play lotto.
Our culture of television and movies causes us to lose the perspective of time. We only see the good bits and we miss the “cultivating steps”. This falsely gives us the expectation of instant results. The movies also dramatise choices but the important choices we make every day are not dramatic choices, e.g. whether to kill Darth Vader vs whether to put on our seat belt. But these are the important “slight edge” decisions.
Don’t make decision based on what you can see (because we won’t see the result straight away) but instead make decisions on what you know. Just make a start in the right direction and believe in the process, believe in patience, believe in time.
Some Day When
Some-day doesn’t exist. Don’t wait for when you have the money, when you have the time, when you have the confidence, the quantum leap or the break-through. There is only today and you need to make a start on the “slight edge” decisions today.
The myth of our culture is that we celebrate the “giant leap”, e.g. the moon landing, but we don’t recognize or even understand all of the little steps that have led to the result.
Believing in the “big break” is worse than futile because it stops you from taking the action now on all of the little things that can make a big difference.
The Slight Edge Curve
Those that take responsibility are on the upward side of the Slight Edge curve, while those that blame are on the downward edge of the curve. If you blame others then you effectively hand over control to others. If you take responsibility then you maintain the control. You can learn and make improvements.
People on the failure curve tend to dwell on the past and this pulls them down. People on the success curve tend to focus on the future and it pulls them up. You are always either on the success curve or the failure curve, there is no in-between.
If you believe in the Slight Edge then you have mastered your life. When we are born we naturally align with the Slight Edge. We are willing to take small, incremental steps in the right direction to learn new skills. However, we lose the willingness to take baby steps as we get older. We give up on our dreams and goals because we become unwilling to fail. The first time we give up it is painful but then it becomes more and more easy and it eventually becomes a habit.
Napoleon Hill says that the most important ingredient of success is “definiteness of purpose” and a burning desire to possess it. Desire and Lack are two sides of the same coin. For us to want something then we have to recognize that we lack it, and this can be painful. Be careful who you share your goals with because this will remind them of their own wants/desires and also of the lack of having these. This is why people discourage you from your own dreams/goals and become dream-stealers.
Those on the success curve live outside of their comfort zone. They know that they must be uncomfortable now to be more comfortable in the future. We only celebrate the lives of people that have done something different and who have got out of their comfort zone, gone against conformity.
Harness the Power of Momentum
A body that stays still will tend to stay still. A body in motion will tend to remain in motion. Do things consistently and compound the results and build the momentum.
It’s better to take many little steps rather than a few big steps. The little steps make it a habit.
Harness the Power of Completion
Incomplete things limit your progress and draw you back. They keep the past alive and draw you towards the failure curve.
Harness the Power of Habit
Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.
Habits are what you do without thinking. The choices you make lead to the actions you take. The choices you make are determined by your philosophy.
Harness the Power of Reflection
You must do the right things because just taking action and doing the wrong things will take you further away from your goals.
Get into the habit of reviewing what you have done and what you have achieved today.
Harness the Power of Celebration
Reflect and celebrate your achievements.
Results come last. We are fooled by our culture to expect results and we gauge people’s success on results.
We need to do the right activity because once we see the results the activity that led to the results are way back in the past. Success comes before results (activity, philosophy, mindset, etc).
One of the greatest and most important Slight Edge strategies is continuous learning. This will keep you on the positive side of the slight edge curve. However we must take action with this knowledge. “If you are not doing then you are dying – life is about doing”.
Read 10 pages of a book and 15 minutes of audio every day.
Being off-course is fine as long as you learn from it and make corrections, e.g. Apollo rocket. Thomas Edison’s secret to success is to “double your rate of failure”. Failure is not the opposite of success – it is part of success.
Course correction is part of continuous improvements. Plan – Do – Review – Do – Review… E.g. Japanese Kaizen principle vs American automobile industry looking for the next big thing.
The Power of Association
The power of modeling – learning from those that have already done what you want to do. 95% of people focus on the lives of movie stars, sports stars and other people that they cannot emulate. Whereas the 5% on the success curve focus on spending time with people that they can emulate. This could be in any field – parenting, business, relationships, fitness. “We are the average of the 5 people that we spend the most time with”.
Monitor the conversations that you are having with people. Are they positive and goal-oritented or negative and dwelling on the past?
Most principles of the Slight Edge are easy to implement but dis-associating yourself from negative people can be difficult.
Turning Your Dreams Into Reality
The steps to achieving your dreams
- Write down your goal, be specific and give yourself a deadline
- Look at it every day
- Understand the price you need to pay and be willing to pay it
- Have a plan to start with – one that just gets you out of the starting gate
- Do something every day
Go through this process for each of the following areas:
- Personal development
- Your life overall (purpose / life’s meaning)
Don’t just think about the future without taking some action every day. People can get a sense of comfort just by thinking of their future life / goals.