The Slight Edge is an excellent book on being successful at life.
Jeff Olson’s key concept is that small daily habits and actions, over time, compound to carry you towards huge success or… On the opposite direction.
Up to you in which direction to go 🙂
- Bullet Summary
- Full Summary
- What to Read After The Slight Edge
- Real Life Applications
- The Slight Edge Quotes
- Every day, do the actions that will carry you to success
- Do it consistently, day in and day out
- Do it even when it’s boring, even when it would easier to do something else
The Slight Edge uses a lot of stories, fables and parables to present its point, which are exactly what makes this book a great mix between a self-help book and a easy, fable-like read.
However, I will skip all the supporting stories for this summary
The First Ingredient: Your Philosophy
Changing your philosophy in the slight edge mindset means changing how you see the daily, small things of your life.
Building to-do lists won’t do you any good unless you change your mindset about all those actions.
And the correct philosophy is this: everything matters. Especially the small daily actions and habits which, over time, either build up to make you a success, or build down to lead you to failure.
The Choice: Up or Down. The Core of The Slight Edge
The core of the slight edge, and I quote Jeff Olson is this:
Little productive actions, repeated consistently over time—add up to the difference between failure and successJeff Olson, The Slight Edge
The Slight Edge will keep applying whether you want it or not, and it goes both ways.
If you get into the habit of doing what will move you towards your goals, day and day you, you will surely be successful.
If you let yourself go and you snooze, eat junk food and waste time, it will lead on the opposite direction of your dreams.
Master The Mundane
Here is why you need to master the mundane:
- Little daily actions are easy to do, but also easy not to do
- Results are invisible (in the beginning)
- Little actions seem insignificant (but they add up)
The small daily actions won’t always be exciting. Sometimes they will be boring. And sometimes they might even be hard.
And they take time.
You will not get to see results right away. And that’s exactly why most people don’t do them
Mastering the slight edge means to learn mastering the daily and mundane. You don’t start from the top right away, you need to get there, and getting there means repeating small little actions day after day.
Don’t Fall For The Quantum Leap
People with a “jackpot” mentality don’t apply the slight for exactly the reasons we mentioned above: it’s easy not to do, it takes time and in the beginning results are unnoticeable.
It won’t make no difference today whether I write this post or snooze. It won’t make a difference whether I gorge at McDonald or I eat my usual healthy dinner.
But in the long run, you bet it does make a difference.
People who don’t understand the slight edge pursue the big break, the quantum leap.
They seek opportunities to make one million today. Basically, most people chase lottery tickets that rarely yield the results they want -and often yield the opposite results-.
Slight edge people do get to experience quantum leaps. But only after they have been working at it for a long time.
Basically, when you apply the slight edge your success will be in “brewing” mode for a while before it eventually explode -same concept Peter Diamandis talks about in Bold for diffusion of disruptive technologies-.
Start With a Penny
The Slight Edge presents a lot of what, in my opinion, sometimes felt a lot like feel-good stories for inspiration.
But it also says that action goes hand in hand with learning and reading.
But the key to your road to success is starting. No matter what you start with, you gotta start.
Two Life Paths
Successful people life in the future and in a world of possibilities. They believe they can change their life.
Unsuccessful people live in blame and they never take responsibility for their life.
Successful people shoulder a responsibility to make others successful.
To shorten your learning curve Jeff Olson recommends you pick a mentor. A mentor should be someone who has already done what you want to achieve.
Make sure that he is a good role model that you can emulate.
Also read Mastery by Robert Greene.
The 7 Slight Edge Habits
Here are five positive and powerful slight edge habits:
- Show up
- Show consistently
- Cultivate a positive outlook (see the glass half full)
- Commit yourself for the long haul (10.000 hours rule)
- Cultivate burning desire backed by faith that you will make it
- Pay the price (sometimes you gotta give up something)
- Practice integrity (do the right thing even when nobody’s watching)
What to Read After The Slight Edge
One of the core principles of the slight edge is that of continuous growth and improvement.
I especially loved the story of Olson speaking to a shoe-shiner who dreamed of sending her daughter to university but she couldn’t afford it. She was an avid reader, but she only red novels.
And Olson wonder “what if she had read good self-development books instead?”
I couldn’t agree more.
Jeff Olson quotes and recommends many books, including:
- The Happiness Advantage
- As a Man Thinketh
- The Automatic Millionaire
- The Go-Giver
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- The Richest Man in Babylon
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- The Power of Habit
- Think and Grow Rich
- Delivering Happiness
- The Greatest Salesman in the World
- The Power of Positive Thinking
- Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us
- The Happiness Project
- The Magic of Thinking Big
- The Millionaire Next Door
- The Science of Getting Rich (I really didn’t like this one though)
Real Life Applications
The whole concept of the slight edge is transformative and something you should definitely apply to your life.
There were a few more gold nuggets I loved though, including:
Make Happiness a Priority
The model that most people follow, such as “achieve the result and then be happy” has been proven over and over not to work.
Do the opposite instead: make happiness a priority which, in turn, will make it much more likely that you will also achieve your goals.
Slight edge + happiness = success.
The Slight Edge Quotes
Here are a few great quotes I loved:
How long will it take? Chances are it will take longer than you want it to—and that when the time arrives, you’ll be astonished at how quick it seemed.Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
The Slight Edge is all about living in the momentJeff Olson, The Slight Edge
Be happy and the reason will appearRobert Breault
I think The Slight Edge if a foundational book for a successful life, so take these cons as small pebbles in an otherwise great text.
Keeps Building Up Suspense
The concepts in The Slight Edge are transformative, yet simple. But the author didn’t simply deliver them in a straightforward fashion: he builds up to them and creates suspense. It’s a good idea to make them more memorable, and sometimes it worked wonders. But some others sometimes I thought it was too much.
I Can’t Stand the Compound Effect 🙂
The compound effect is a truth of life and it’s importnat. However, I personally can’t stomach anymore the compound effect applied to financial investment. One because it’s everywhere, and second because I don’t really believe that much in it (also read: Fooled by Randomness and The Millionaire Fastlane)
Sometimes Statistically Superficial
This is nitpicking, but you know guys I’m a highly critical, nazi reviewer.
The author says that by analyzing the words in tweet messages they could predict health. But the doctor who introduced the study didn’t predict overall health, he only measured the correlation with one single medical ailment.
I’ll give you one example to show you how these correlation can be meaningless: jogging is likely to be correlated with higher incidence of knee injuries, sprayed ankles and dog bits. Does it mean jogging is unhealthy? Of course not.
Also read: How to Lie With Statistics
The Legacy Topic
I’m really not a big fan of legacy. I feel it comes from an unhealthy place. It contains a lot of entitlement mentality with the idea of “being remembered”, which sounds rather egocentric to me.
The truth is that, on a long enough timeline, nobody will be remembered. And that’s fine.
The book could have been much shorter. Especially if you read a lot of self-development texts much of the information won’t be new to you.
But repetition can also help people internalize the message better, so this one is very personal.
The Slight Edge goes at the core of success. Both in terms of achieving material success and an happier, more meaningful life.
That’s all the “pros” you need :).
The Slight Edge is an excellent, excellent book.
If you want to be successful, the slight edge is your formula.
It is in many ways similar in content to The Compound Effect, and both are excellent books because they go at the core of what it takes to be successful.