M.A. Psychology, Oxford. McKinsey Alum. Founder & Editor at TAoL.
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The Slight Edge Review
The Slight Edge is a short, punchy, practical guide to the power of simple daily disciplines.
If you enjoyed books like Atomic Habits, The Power of Habit or The Compound Effect, then you’ll enjoy Jeff Olson’s advice. This is another great take on the importance of getting small things right (and the consequences of getting them wrong).
It’s easy to digest. It’s well structured. It’s packed with case studies, quotes and recommended reading. It heavily influenced TAoL’s TRACKTION Planner →
My verdict? At just 168 pages, whether you’re new to self-improvement or a fully-fledged productivity pro, it’s definitely worth a read. And if you’re still on the fence, or not sure why this is one of TAoL’s top productivity books of all time, here’s…
The Slight Edge Summary
I’ve split this Slight Edge summary into 4 sections:
- What Is The Slight Edge?
- Why Is The Slight Edge Important?
- How Can I Master The Slight Edge? and
- Examples Of Slight Edge Habits
What Is The Slight Edge?
The Slight Edge is the advantage you get from showing up and repeating simple positive daily disciplines in every area of life, consistently over time.
It comes from the realisation that there’s no such thing as quick success. Difficult things take a little time. Impossible things take just a little longer. And waiting for things to fall in your lap only keeps you from taking the actions you need to create the results you want.
It’s based on the recognition that there is no such thing as luck. There is only preparedness meeting with opportunity. The more time you spend preparing, the more opportunities you can take advantage of and the more your luck increases.
Why Is The Slight Edge Important?
The Slight Edge is important because the the compound effect is deceptively powerful. Simple daily disciplines repeated consistently over time lead to big positive results. Simple errors in judgement lead to big negative results.
For example, a 1% improvement every day (1% + 1% + 1%…) for a year leads to a 3.7x improvement. Meanwhile a compounded 1% improvement (1 x 1.01 ^ 365) leads to a 38x improvement.
Some people don’t know this, others do know it but they give up too early. They either don’t believe that their simple daily disciplines are working, or as soon as they start seeing results they stop making effort; they try to coast on momentum.
But there’s no such thing as standing still. If you’re not moving up, you’re moving down. So as that momentum runs out they start spiralling back towards failure.
At some point, it becomes clear that their upward momentum has run out and they’re travelling back in the opposite direction. At that point they start putting in effort again. They catch themselves, turn themselves painfully around and repeat the whole process.
The Slight Edge is important because it helps you break out of this cycle; it’s the secret to achieving breakthrough success (and avoiding massive failure).
And the best part of this process is that the positive changes you make won’t just benefit you. They’ll ripple out into the world around you (also known as, “The Ripple Effect”).
The Slight Edge benefits everyone.
The Slight Edge Chart
Before The Slight Edge: When you stop showing up after initial results you oscillate between survival and failure.
After The Slight Edge: When you keep showing up even after initial results you break through to new levels of success.
How Can I Master The Slight Edge?
To master The Slight Edge…
First – Take stock. Ask: “Am I heading upward or down in each of my…”
- Personal development;
- Career; and
- Positive impact on the world.
Second – Create your own Slight Edge Worksheet. For each area:
- Write down what you want (be specific about exactly what it looks like and when you want to accomplish it) – Create a strong desire for and vision of success. Wanting is uncomfortable but it’s essential to winning.
- Put down a simple plan to get there – Don’t overthink it. Don’t make it perfect. Just use the plan to get started. Expect the plan to change and improve as you go.
- Decide on one simple daily discipline – Write one small simple discipline that, if you did it consistently, would improve this area by 1% every day.
- Look at your worksheet every day – Remind yourself constantly of what you want and how you’re planning to get there.
Third – Build The 7 Slight Edge Habits:
- Show up – Start small. Get started. Show up every day.
- Be consistent – Create momentum. Correct your trajectory. Outlast the competition.
- Have a positive outlook – Be grateful. Focus on opportunities, not problems.
- Be committed for the long haul – Remember the 10,000 hour rule.
- Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith – Clarify and visualise what you want.
- Be willing to pay the price – Very few worthwhile things are achieved easily.
- Practice slight edge integrity – Keep taking action even when nobody’s watching.
Fourth – Hang out with winners:
- Surround yourself with mentors and role models you want to emulate;
- Associate with people who inspire you to be great (dissociate from the rest); and
- Form a mastermind of 2+ people you can pursue self-improvement with.
And finally – Use The 4 Slight Edge allies:
- Build momentum – Slow and steady builds momentum. Momentum wins the race;
- Close open loops – Close out all the incomplete projects and tasks on your plate;
- Reflect regularly – Make time to regularly review what happened, what went well and what could be improved at the end of each day, week, project; and
- Celebrate often – Celebrate each successful decision.
Examples Of Slight Edge Habits…
Shawn Achor’s five happy habits from The Happiness Advantage:
- Write down three things you’re grateful for;
- Journal about a positive experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours;
- Perform a random act of kindness; and
- Exercise for 15 minutes.
Other simple disciplines for happiness:
- Make time for friends and relationships;
- Practice savouring the moment;
- Practice having a positive perspective;
- Practice forgiveness;
- Engage in meaningful activities; and
- Practice simple acts of giving.
Simple disciplines for personal development:
- Read at least 10 pages of a good book every day;
- Listen to 15 minutes of life-transforming audio; and
- Take a new course or seminar every couple of weeks.
Note: For more examples, check out TAoL‘s ultimate guide to habit tracking.
The Slight Edge Book Recommendations
This list of life transforming book recommendations comes direct from the last chapter of The Slight Edge. I’ve ordered them by what’s most read (Goodreads review count), what’s most loved (Goodreads review score) and what’s survived the longest (publication date).
For even more reading, check out all TAoL’s book recommendations including:
For now, though, here’s Jeff’s list:
The Slight Edge Contents
The Slight Edge has 18 main chapters in 2 parts…
Part I: How the Slight Edge Works
- The Beach Bum and the Millionaire
- The First Ingredient
- The Choice
- Master the Mundane
- Slow Down to Go Fast
- Don’t Fall for Quantum Leap
- The Secret of Happiness
- The Ripple Effect
- But You Have to Start with a Penny
Part II: Living the Slight Edge
- Two Life Paths
- Mastering the Slight Edge
- Invest in Yourself
- Learn from Mentors
- Use Your Slight Edge Allies
- Cultivate Slight Edge Habits
- Three Steps to Your Dreams
- Living the Slight Edge
- Where to Go from Here
Best The Slight Edge Quotes
These The Slight Edge quotes come from The Art of Living's ever-growing central library of thoughts, anecdotes, notes, and inspirational quotes.
"The same activities that take us from failure to survival would also take us from survival to success – if we would just keep doing them. You already know how to do everything it would take to make you an outrageous success. All you have to do is keep doing the things that have gotten you this far. You have complete control over the direction that the rest of your life takes. There is a beach bum and a millionaire inside each one of us. What makes the difference in how things turn out? You do."- Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
"The truth is, what you do matters. What you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in."- Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
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