The Difference Between Spinning Your Wheels and Winning Deals: My Thoughts on ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson
If “how to do it” were the answer, it’d be done. It’s how you do the “hows” that’s most important. If access to the right information were the answer, we’d all be rich, healthy, happy, and fulfilled. And most of us are none of those things. — Jeff Olson
The “Why Not Me?” Effect
Just today I was reading an article about superstar Sophia Amoruso who built an empire around her fashion brand using mostly social media by age 27. As I sat there reading the article, wondering what separated Sophia and I (besides one year and millions of dollars), I was reminded of my recent experience reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.
It happens all the time. We’re reading a blog and see someone our age or maybe even half our age that has achieved success, almost like a billionaire alternate version of ourselves. We stop and wonder where we went wrong, why we didn’t end up like them.
Olson would make the argument that every decision you have made up until this very moment is why you are where you are. Even the smallest decision “curves” as he describes, either curving you upward toward success or downward toward failure. For example, I decided to sleep in this morning after peeking out my window and seeing a fresh layer of snow on the streets rather than putting on my coat and boots to hit the gym, setting me on a downward curve. Will this decision hurt me today? No. Will this decision hurt me in 10 years? Yes, because I have given myself permission to fail.
Olson describes his slight edge as “simple productive actions, repeated consistently over time. Simple errors in judgment, repeated consistently over time. The choice is that simple.” If you are not putting the slight edge to work for you, then it is already working against you.
When 95% of the world straddles the curve between survival and failure, how can YOU be on the 5% that soars upward to success? What if you shaved back one hour of TV a night and instead read 10 pages from a self-improvement book and ran for half an hour? That’s all it could take to curve up.
But how do you make the decision to do something today that will reap benefits weeks, months, years in the future? The millennial generation has a particularly difficult time with this concept, Olson points out. We are spoon fed our news in tweets and blog headlines; we can listen to anything we want instantly since the emergence of iTunes and Spotify; we have essentially an entire computer in the palm of our hands nearly 24/7.
Slow down. Make conscious decisions that will turn into habits that feed your success. Once these simple habits are in place, success will happen fast.
The Slight Edge in My Life
While there are plenty of ways I could be implementing the slight edge into my life, I have chosen my top 2 goals:
Achieve a Handstand Pose in Yoga Without Modification
I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for a few years and consistently for a year now. One month deep into my Yoga Teacher Training program, I am committing to myself that by the end of the 6 month program, I should be able to achieve an unassisted handstand. With some simple Google searches on how to begin warming up to this difficult balancing pose, I established my plan. And while my plan isn’t what will be buoy to success, it gives me confidence to start. With my plan outlined and taped to the mirror in my bedroom, I know what workouts I should be doing each week and how I can progress to handstand. I’m putting the slight edge to work for me: small, consistent steps toward reaching my goal.
Pay Off My Student Loan Debt
It’s always easy to find an excuse to spend my money today. That cute shirt you complimented last week? I shouldn’t have bought it. The Starbucks coffee on my desk? Definitely shouldn’t have bought it. With the slight edge methodology, I am committing to saving $200 a month ($50 less than Olson actually recommends) to tuck away into my Roth account. In other words, I will be relying on my existing closet and k-cups to carry me through. But, in a few years, when my student loans have been paid off in full, I will know the truest feeling of success I can imagine at 26.
Every decision you make is a chance to prove what you’re made of, no matter how small. You’ll know the slight edge is working for you when you come home from a 10 hour work day, exhausted, craving a beer and frozen pizza while watching TV in bed, but instead you decide to cook yourself a meal, go for a 30 minute walk, and read 10 pages Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich.’ As Olson describes, “It’s in that moment’s decision, when nobody else is watching and no one will ever know, when your choice is so slight, so subtle, so insignificant … it’s at that moment that you find out whether or not you have slight edge integrity.”