Book:  The Slight Edge

Author:  Jeff Olson

Purchase:  PrintAudiobook

Citation:  Olson, J. & Mann, J. (2013). The slight edge. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press.

Three Big Takeaways:​​

  • Let's be honest: most people are struggling to keep their heads above water. Struggling to keep from digging deeper into debt; struggling to keep their health from slipping; struggling to manage everything in their busy schedules. Life often feels like a race - with someone constantly moving the finish line further away. Not for everyone, of course. There are those for whom life somehow seems to work. But they aren't the majority. My observation is that 1 person in 20 is achieving a significant measure of his or her goals in life. 1 in 20. Or about 5 percent. The 5 percent all understand the power of the slight edge and how it is working for or against them. They may not even see what they do as being guided by a "philosophy." But that's exactly what it is. (pg. 50)

  • On which side of the slight edge curve are you standing right now? Are you one of the 5 percenters, one of those individuals living on the success curve and going up? Or, are you among the resigned majority, the 95 percenters on the failure curve and sliding down? In the middle you say? Sorry, there is no middle. You are either going up or down. The early part of both curves is fairly flat, so it can certainly look like you're moving along on a nice, even keel, heading neither up nor down. But appearances can be deceiving. In a constantly and rapidly changing world, you simply cannot remain the same as you were yesterday. You are either improving or diminishing in personal and professional value. You are building towards greater happiness and fulfillment, or deeper unhappiness and dissatisfaction. You are learning more and more about the truth of life, or slipping deeper and deeper into denial about the truths of life. You are building your long-term security and financial freedom, or dismantling it. And your health is building day by day ... or ebbing slowly away. (pg. 151)

  • When was the last time you went golfing. If you golf below an 80, congratulations! You are a heck of a golfer ... and you may want to rethink your priorities. If you lined up the one hundred most successful men and women in America and calculated their golf averages, I bet they wouldn't break 100. I know golf is one of the most popular pastimes in the United States, but wouldn't you rather have success be you most popular pastime? I'm not picking on golf or any other form of recreation. We need balance in our lives. The question is, though, are you developing yourself? Are you building your dream, or only your boss's? (pg. 177)

Other Key Ideas

  • Despite the fact that he didn't seem to have any special skills and for performing and was not good at being on stage, Steve Martin set about doing it anyway. Hour after hour, day after day. He did that for years. And fifteen years later, he was the single biggest audience draw in the history of standup comedy. It is the steady, repeated action of water that can wear even the hardest rock to a smooth surface. Whatever you're after, the slight edge is the way to get it. That is the difference between the 5 percent and everyone else. They know how to use the slight edge, and they do it. (pg. 51)

  • If you would agree to read ten pages of a good book every single day, over time, you could not help but accumulate all the knowledge you'd ever need to be as successful as you could ever want to be. Reading ten pages over day would compound and create inside you a ten-million-dollar bank of knowledge. If you kept this up for a year, you would have ready 3,650 pages - the equivalent of one or two dozen books of life-changing material. (pg. 57)

  • The secret of time is simply this: time is the force that magnifies those little, seemingly insignificant things you do every day into something titanic and unstoppable. You supply the actions; the universe will supply the time. The trick is to choose the actions that, when multiplied by this universal amplifier, will yield the results you want. To position your everyday actions so time works for you, not against you. (pg. 65)

  • Successful people do whatever it takes to get the job done, whether or not they feel like it. They understand that it is not any one single push on the flywheel but the cumulative total of all the consistent pushes that eventually creates movement of such astonishing momentum in their lives. Simply by making the right decisions, one at a time, over and over again, and you will enlist the awesome power of the slight edge on your behalf. (pg. 71)

  • Over the past few decades it's been amazing how many people have persisted in making fun of my dietary choices, exercise habits, and personal development goals. The "insignificant'' little things I've been doing every day for years have always struck them as funny, because they couldn't see the point. They couldn't see the results coming further down the path. Today, I see these friends and ache for them: many now have failing health, are in poor financial condition, and have lost their hopes for the future. (pg. 88)

  • What positive psychologists have found is that happiness isn't some big thing you pursue, not something you chase after. It's not something "out there" that you have to hunt down. It's right in front of our noses. It's not something you pursue. It's something you do. Or to be more accurate, it's a lot of things you do. A lot of little something that you do every day. How you realize happiness is by doing some simple things, and doing them every day. (pg. 95)

  • Five steps for happiness (From The Happiness Advantage): 1) Each morning write down three things you're grateful for; 2) Journal about one positive experience you've had over the last 24 hours; 3) Meditate daily; 4) Do a random act of kindness over the course of the day; 5) Exercise for fifteen minutes daily. (pg. 104)

  • In his landmark book "Word-of-Mouth Marketing," Jerry Wilson shares an earth-shattering statistic: The average customer will tell three people about a positive experience with a business or product, but will talk about a negative experience to thirty-three people. (pg. 145)

  • Educating yourself is more than simply a matter of acquiring specific knowledge. Continuous, lifelong learning is the material from which you continually build your philosophy and your understanding of how it plays out in real-life situations and circumstances. Here's a statistic that may blow your mind: among high school graduates who do not go on to college, 58 percent - more than half - never read a book again. For the rest of their lives. It's just one more reason the 95 percent stop paddling and slide down the failure curve. They spend their lives building someone else's dream, not because they aren't capable of building their own but because they never gained the knowledge they need. And for the people who do read books, most accomplish little more than to entertain themselves and pass the tie. All the whodunits, Hollywood tell-alls, and teenage vampire novels in the world won't vault you up and over onto the upper half of the slight edge curve. (pg. 176)

  • I can read a book, return it to my bookshelf, then come back a year later to read it again - and it feels like somebody sneaked into my room while I was sleeping and completely rewrote the thing. This happens all the time. I'm constantly discovering all sorts of insights in books that I'd already read before. Why? Because of the learning I've gone through in the interim. My experiences have changed my perspective. Now, when I read a particular passage or point the author makes, I understand it in a way I could not have seen a year ago. And in turn that informs my behavior. (pg. 180)

  • You can't excel based purely on knowledge learned through study; and you can't excel purely through knowledge gleaned through action. The two have to work together. You study, and then you do activity. The activity changes your frame of reference, and now you are in a place where you can learn more. Then you learn more, and it gives you more insight into what you experienced in your activity, so now you re-approach activity with more insight. And back and forth it goes. (pg. 180)

  • The 95 percent on the failure curve tend to accept the heroes society plants in front of them: film stars, rock stars, sports stars. I can certainly admire these folks, but I always ask myself, "Can I emulate them?" Can I convert my admiration for these people into constructive modeling that moves my life forward? If not, maybe I'm better off looking for other heroes. Too often we make heroes out of people who can't really help us, whose lives are fantasies, not genuine role models. Whatever goals you aspire to, seek out people who have achieved the same or very similar goals or who are well along that path, and do whatever you can to emulate them. (pg. 195)

  • There are days when I wake up and I'm in a funk. I might not even know why, but life feels very heavy and depressing. It doesn't matter how successful you are, the funk is still going to get you at times. When this happens, first know you are in good company. The funk finds everyone. But here is what I've learned, and it has saved me and pulled me from the funk more than once: There is no way I can feel happy and content without feeling the funk. So when bad things are happening to you, embrace that funk. That, too, is cultivating a positive outlook. When something is hard or difficult, embrace it, because it will make you stronger. Life is going to get you down and the funk is going to get you. Embrace it and fight through it and know you are not alone. (pg. 225)

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.