page title icon Book Summary Review: The Slight Edge

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As per the US News and World Report, 80% of the yearly resolutions tend to fail by the second week of February. When people fail to push their resolutions to the end, they tend to think they never tried hard enough. However, the truth is that success results from simple and productive actions consistently repeated over time, also known as a “slight edge” by Jeff Olson. What is the slight edge? 

  • Slight edge refers to the simple and productive actions done repetitively and consistently over time
  • Examples of slight edge actions include daily workouts, saving money, reading books, daily meditation, and visualization

The book’s first chapter is titled “The Beach Bum and the Millionaire.” Using this chapter, Jeff illustrates the benefits of taking slight edge actions, and the drawbacks of ignoring them. The author offers an example of his two friends; one was a beach bum, loved girls, and was always clubbing. He dropped out of college and relocated to Mexico where he started a business. He ignored slight edge actions and, within no time, his business failed, and he lost everything. The second friend went from college to business school and later graduated. He was running a record-breaking company, and happy beyond measure. Despite the contrast between the two friends, Jeff later reveals to the reader that the two are actually himself. How did he move from the beach bum to a millionaire? Through engaging in “slight edge” activities. Like compound effect principles in Darren Hardy’s book, Jeff argues that small habits and choices stack up over time, creating positive, or negative, momentum. 

Jeff goes ahead to talk about the first ingredient for success. In this information age, people have all the information in almost every area touching their lives. How to lose weight, how to get rich, how to stop procrastinating, how to build muscles, etc. However, despite all this information, the incredible insights seem to have no effect. What could be the reason? The book argues that the missing ingredient is the lack of “your philosophy.” By “your philosophy,” Jeff refers to how you think about simple everyday things. Once you have a personal philosophy, you will take the steps needed, leading you to the “how-to’s” required. The slight edge, in this case, works as the first element and the best catalyst that makes all the “how-to’s” work. 

In chapter 3, Jeff expands more on the slight edge concept. The chapter begins with a question. “What would you choose if offered $1 million  cash, or a penny that doubles daily for 31 days?” Many would pick the $1 million in cash. Jeff explains the catch, and why one should choose the penny that doubles. With the penny that doubles, you will have 16 cents by day five, and on day 20, you will have $5,243. It is only on day 29 that the money will double to $3 million. But here is the magic, on day 31 you will have $7 million, thanks to the magic penny. Using this concept, Jeff points out that starting saving habits when young allows you to enjoy compound interest. 

Mastering the mundane is key to pursuing success. According to Jeff, only 1 in 20 people (5%) attain a significant measure of their life goals. In this case, the best question one can ask themselves is, “What do the 5% do differently than the 95%?”  The only difference is that 95% do not take advantage of the slight edge. People rarely do such actions consistently for three main reasons. 

  • First–while the actions are easy to do, they are also easy to not do.
  • Second–the actions lack immediate and open results.
  • Last–they sometimes seem insignificant. The author also explores the power of time, where he offers a formula for unconquerable results. Consistently repeated daily habits + time = unconquerable results.

In chapter 7, Jeff argues that happiness results from regularly doing simple, easy actions. He also cautions that success never leads to happiness. On the contrary, happiness creates elevated health, longevity, marital fulfillment, and financial and career success. In chapter 9, Jeff notes that great success starts with a tiny beginning. Whatever you want to start, avoid procrastination, also known as the “someday I will” mentality. Greatness, in this case, is never something predestined, pre-determined, or carved into your destiny by factors beyond your control.  

In life, everyone has a choice to make, either to engage in slight edge actions–or not. Engaging in slight edge actions leads to a life full of success and vice versa. Living on the slight edge requires taking personal responsibility and avoiding blaming others. 

Steps Towards Attaining Your Dream Goal

  1. Note the goal down with a clear description and timeline
  2. Look at it daily until it soaks in the subconscious mind 
  3. Start with a simple plan. Plans may not get you there, but they help in jumpstarting. 

Slight Edge Allies to Sustain Success

  1. Momentum–stay in motion and give yourself time
  2. Completion–ensure that you complete your list of incompletions
  3. Habit–repeat simple, almost insignificant, and right actions daily until they become automatic
  4. Reflection–take time to reflect daily for constant improvement
  5. Celebration–celebrate choices you make

Seven Slight Edge Principles to Sustain Success Over Time

  1. Show up–the world is rife with hesitation, which is the cornerstone for mediocrity. People plan on succeeding, but how many take the necessary steps towards success? If you want to succeed, you must show up. Show up for meetings, show up for class and practice. Showing up helps you rise above half of the population in any circumstance. By simply showing up, you will have won half the battle.
  2. Be consistent–Jeff quotes Woody Allen, who argued that 80% of success is showing up. Jeff adds two words to Allen’s quotes: “80% of success is showing up every day”. As an individual pursuing success, committing to showing up consistently, every day, no matter what, ensures that you have already won half the battle. The rest of the battle is won through drive, skills, knowledge, and execution. 
  3. Have a positive outlook–as a person pursuing life success, having a  good attitude, especially when faced with challenges, is crucial. 
  4. Be committed for the long haul–success rarely comes overnight. On the contrary, it requires many days, months, and even years of trying. If you are working to improve on something, plan on being committed for a long haul
  5. Have faith and a burning desire–a “burning desire backed by faith simply means deeply, passionately wanting to get somewhere and knowing—not hoping, not wishing, but knowing that you’re going to get there.” Even when faced with challenges, the desire motivates you to confront them rather than hide. A burning desire backed with faith motivates you to go through challenges successfully. 
  6. Be ready to pay the price–people associate paying the price with taking gigantic steps. However, the book indicates that you can succeed by taking consistent baby steps. If you want to lose weight, for example, you can start by giving up one type of junk you are attached to.
  7. Practice slight edge integrity–cultivate the integrity to work harder even when no one is watching

Obstacles Towards Implementing Slight Edge

  1. Neglecting small discipline over time–the more you neglect small actions, the harder it becomes to reverse course and move back toward your goals. 
  2. The myth of instant success (microwave mentality)–people should embrace the idea of steady progress instead of rags-to-grace overnight success.
  3. The loss of faith regarding one’s dream goals

Key Takeaways

  1. 1% daily improvement equals 365% improvement in a year
  2.  Your philosophy creates your attitudes, and your attitudes create actions. Later your actions create results that create your life.
  3. You can start with a million without a slight edge and eventually lose it. With a slight edge, you can begin with a penny and attain anything you dream of.
  4. Only 1 in 20 people attain the level of success and fulfillment they desire. Ninety-five percent of people fall short. The difference between the performance is the slight edge
  5. No genuine success is instant. No collapse is sudden. Both result from either engaging, or not engaging, in slight edge, accruing momentum over time.
  6. Great success starts with tiny beginnings. For example, if you add 1% of anything (skill, knowledge, effort…) per day over a year, it will be exponentially increased in a year
  7.  When pursuing success, the wisest investment becomes continuous learning and development
  8. Have a mentor. Learning to do a task well requires someone who has mastered the skill
  9. The slight edge allies include the power of momentum, the power of completion, the power of reflection, and the power of celebration–engage them all.
  10. Three steps towards attaining a goal include writing it down, looking at it daily, and starting with a simple plan

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