The Slight Edge: Simple Habits For Success
“Gentlemen, this is a football” – Vince Lombardi
We are all familiar with the financial concept of compound interest in the world of finance, which simply put, is the principle that the interest that we make will also earn interest, and this interest will, in turn, earn interest. This will go on indefinitely and the larger the balance becomes, the larger the interest accumulated. Small amounts compounded consistently over time will yield consistently larger amounts.
This principle of compounding is not just a financial principle but is a principle that is applicable in all areas of our lives. This principle is really what we call potential and what author and entrepreneur, Jeff Olson calls The Slight Edge in his book by the same name. In his book, Jeff Olson explains why some people are able to achieve success in their lives, not just financial success, but success in all areas.
The Difference Maker
What makes all the difference comes down to the habits we cultivate in our everyday lives, to the choices we make and where we invest our time on a regular basis. Most people, however, will choose not to do the simple disciplines required. Why? “The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But they are just as easy not to do”. (p. 54) The second reason he gives is “The results are invisible – they don’t add up to success”. (p.55) So here is another problem – The simple habits which create success in the long run, don’t seven seem like they are having much of an impact in the short term. They may even seem trivial. and that is why most people won’t do them.
“There are two kinds of habits: those that serve you, and those that don’t.”
― Jeff Olson,
Slight Edge choices might include:
- Reading a book for 30 minutes a day
- Waking up early to exercise each day
- Eating vegetables and fruits regularly
- Keeping track of spending
Some habits that do not serve well might be:
- Choosing to watch tv shows over reading
- Sleeping an extra hour instead of getting up early
- Eating processed snack foods instead of healthy snacks
- Not keeping regular track of spending
Just as we know the importance of regularly putting aside money to invest in order to benefit from the principle of compound interest, we also know that good habits in other areas of our lives will reap rewards over time. Healthy eating habits will yield healthy bodies, healthy relationship habits will yield healthy relationships and healthy lifestyle habits will yield a healthy lifestyle. But it takes more than just knowing what to do; it also takes a change in the way we think. In fact, if we don’t change “the way you think about simple everyday things”., then no amount of how-tos will get you anywhere or give you any true solutions.”
The First Ingredient
Self-help and weight loss programs abound, but, unfortunately, many people stay with them a while and then stop. They come to the conclusion that the program didn’t work or “wasn’t for me”. People don’t stay with the program because the attitude behind the actions is not the right one to keep them going. Of course, people can get inspiration, give themselves pep talks to get them going, but these will not keep them on track long term. Jeff Olson calls the first ingredient: the philosophy, which is “what you know, how you hold it, and how it affects what you do.” He says that a positive philosophy (mindset) will translate into a positive attitude and a negative philosophy will breed a negative attitude.
“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 Curve
Jeff Olson writes that everything in life is on a curve; there are no straight paths. We are either curving up or curving down in life. He says we are either “increasing or decreasing”. In the graph above, the positive compound interest lifestyle is represented by the upward curve. The downward curve is the formula for failure (repeated bad choices, attitudes, habits over time). The upward curve represents essentially 1 person out of 20 (5%) who will choose the path of compounding and be relatively successful in the different areas of their life. The downward curve represents the 19 people out of 20 (95%) who know what to do but choose not to.
“You have complete control over the direction that the rest of you life takes.” – Jeff Olson
Time Is Either a Friend or an Enemy
Time is really all we have and it can be our greatest ally or our worst enemy depending on how we choose to spend it. When we have a “time is my friend” mentality, we make all of our choices from this perspective. We can use it to cultivate good habits and not waste it on activities or choices that are unproductive. Simple disciplines over time will promote you in ways you might not have seen and neglecting the simple disciplines will expose the neglect. It really all comes down to what you want out of life and the direction you want it to go. It will go up or it will go down, but it will not travel in a straight line.
Blame Vs. Responsibility
In his book, Jeff Olson explains that there are two predominant attitudes that will help you to measure which side of the curve spectrum you are on. On the down curve, the predominant attitude is: blame. The predominant attitude of the upward curve is responsibility. Having an attitude of responsibility sets you free and empowers you. Essentially, it allows you to be in control of your actions, reactions, and choices. People with the attitude that they are responsible are not limited by circumstances and that how they respond determines their success, not the circumstance.
On the downward curve are those who are “blame professionals”. For this group, everything and everyone is fair game for them: the weather, the economy, the government, their upbringing and their parents, their boss or their colleagues and so much more. In fact, this group lives continually in a “victim” mentality and are disempowered by this very habit-attitude of blaming.
The Landscape of the Curve
Something else we can notice about this diagram is that at the beginning, it looks like the simple disciplines are not making too much of an impact. for example, if two people have the desire to be physically fit or be healthy, both may be starting at the same place. Let’s call them Sarah and Anne. Sarah chooses to apply simple disciplines such as healthier eating and regular exercise, while Anne does not. For a time there will be no difference in results, and they will be traveling along parallelly. Then, slowly at first and then more consistently and quickly, Sarah will begin to travel the upward curve in terms of her results at getting healthier.
In a business scenario, John and Maxime may be both traveling the same professional route at first. However, Maxime has chosen to study and learn new skills. He has chosen to read more in his field and outside his field as well as enroll in classes to improve his skills. John, on the other hand, continues doing what he has always done and chooses not to invest in himself? Which of the two will probably be getting promotions down the line?
7 Simple Habits to Close the Gap
Nothing that is significant is meaningless even if it is very small or goes unnoticed. In fact, most of what is important goes unnoticed by most people.
No matter what, be there where you need to be to do what you need to do. Just by consistently showing up, whether it is exercising, reading a book each day or making sales calls, by showing up, you are already ahead of 50% of the people. most people simply will not show up on a regular basis, Many will give up.
Whatever results you are obtaining now, press on. Consistently doing what you need to do to get the results you want to have over time will get you the results you are chasing. It doesn’t matter where you start or when you start (but the best time is now), it doesn’t matter how good, how smart or how talented you or anyone else us. Consistency trumps everything else.
Have a Good Attitude Every day
Attitude is key to the path your life will take as we have seen above. Your attitude will determine your future far more than any circumstances and setbacks will. If you can look up, you can get up. A positive attitude will impact you and everyone around you for the better. Have a thankful spirit, appreciate what you have. No matter what happens in life we always have things to be thankful for.
It all begins with a decision and a commitment to what we have decided. Commitment means that we are honest with ourselves and will do what we said we would do no matter how long it takes, no matter how we feel. Success in anything is not a 100-meter dash; it is a marathon. Commitment involves discipline and regularity. It has been shown that a habit takes 66 days to form and then we need to continue it until it becomes cemented.
Even if we don’t see results right away, we need to trust the process. And what is the process? It is the day in, day out plugging along, doing what needs to be done to get the results we want. Faith is long term vision and belief that that vision will be a reality. Lack of faith is what makes us doubt and then give up, but giving up will not bring results. So faith is an extremely important factor in the direction our life will go.
Pay the Price
There will be a price; anything worthwhile has a price. Maybe it will mean having to be uncomfortable for a while, maybe it will mean doing less of those activities that you enjoy but are not helpful or productive, maybe it will mean having to say “no” more often – no to the good, but yes to the great. Results require discipline and sacrifice for a good reason – short term pain for long term gain.
Above all, have integrity towards yourself and others. Do what is right in the right way. Integrity is all about who you are and what you do when no one is looking. It,s about doing what you said you would do even when you donÙ,t feel like it, even when it is not convenient. Integrity is the work behind the scenes.
” Give me six hours to chop a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca