I want you to imagine a penny.
A penny? Why do I have to imagine this?
Be patient…We’ll get to it in one second. But for now, visualize the penny in your mind’s eye.
Got a clear picture of it?
Once you do, I want you to visualize a million dollars. How does that look in comparison to the penny?
Massive, right? Makes the penny look insignificant.
Here’s another scenario. A wealthy relative of yours is dying. He has chosen you as the heir of his fortunes. Being the sympathetic uncle he is, he gives you a choice: a penny or a million dollars.
WITH a catch of course…
If you choose the penny, it will be doubled every day for the next thirty days. That means one penny turns into two turns into four turns into eight, etc…
If you choose the million dollars, it will be a one-time lump sum payment.
Which one would you choose?
If you chose the million, you made a mistake, hombre.
A penny doubled every day for thirty days would eventually become 5.3 million dollars.
“That’s impossible!”, you say in a flabbergasted manner. Ah…but it is possible. It’s the only thing that’s possible. It’s the slight edge.
In this article, I’m going to teach you the power of the slight edge and how to use it effectively. You’ll also learn:
- Why success and failure is separated by an extremely fine line
- The massive importance of the slight edge in your day to day affairs
- Why it’s the only thing that matters in this world of chaos and fragility.
It’s not something to be taken lightly.
So…what is the Slight Edge?
In the book The Slight Edge, author Jeff Olson talks about how small, easy to do (or easy not to do) actions over time lead to vast advantages…or disadvantages.
This “edge” is the differentiating factor between those who blow life wide open and those who find themselves getting tossed about like a leaf in the wind.
The Power of the Slight Edge and the Fine Line
Success and failure are separated by a fine line.
And I’m not talking about the type of failure that’s temporary… I’m talking about the life-shortening, regret-inducing failure that torments millions of people across the globe.
That turn you did or didn’t take in your car, leading to a life-changing accident.
Your desire to or not to eat healthy foods that lead to a strong mind and a stronger body.
The time when you should have called your friend but left it to tomorrow, not knowing he wouldn’t be alive tomorrow.
All of these seemingly insignificant decisions that we forget, take for granted, or procrastinate on believing that the opportunity will still “be there”. These are all Slight Edge decisions.
Sports games are won by thousands of things the players did or didn’t do over the course of a game.
Horse races are won by a photo finish.
Very fine decisions that are easy to neglect.
Yes, hard work is very important. But it’s not the only determining factor in success or failure.
Because here’s the challenge:
You aren’t programmed to make good decisions
Genetically, you aren’t programmed to make good decisions.
That’s because your ancestors (and mine) had a short life span with all sorts of immediate dangers that could make that life span even shorter. This required them to think about “now” and only about “now”.
Obviously, this type of thinking doesn’t do well in the modern world.
You aren’t programmed to save money. You aren’t programmed to choose the harder path over the easier. You aren’t programmed to think long term.
This is further reinforced to you through society. Society wants you to give into instant gratification. Banks, credit card companies, marketers, and all sorts of third parties profit off of you giving into instant gratification and the path of least resistance.
You make them rich because of your lack of self-discipline.
All of your bad decisions accumulate via the Slight Edge and become a massive problem that is hard to take care of.
There’s many laws in this world and the slight edge is just one of them.
We live in an orderly universe of relative cause and effect.
That means that there are certain operations that keep our world going without a hitch. If gravity, electricity, or some other natural phenomena we take for granted decided to “sometimes” work, we’d be in big trouble.
The Slight Edge is one of those laws. To be honest, it’s one of the most fundamental laws in existence – the law of compound interest.
Good and evil increase at compound interest. That’s why the little decisions we make every day are of infinite importance. – C.S. Lewis
Things that are bad will tend to get worse. Things that are good will continue to get great. The rich get richer and the poorer get poorer. Literally.
Even one of the oldest books in the world says this:
“Take heed therefore how ye hear; for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have. – Luke 8:18, The Bible
The Slight Edge Deviation Curve
As I said before, success and failure are often separated by a fine line.
What I failed to mention is that it’s only that way for a little while.
Once momentum starts to pick up and incremental change starts to kick in, the success and failure curve shoot off into different directions.
This can work for you or against you. Here’s a brief example:
Take two men. They’re strapping 21 year old identical twins who had the same variables in their life. Same mother, same father, same environment. Went to the same college, had the same group of friends, etc.
They decide to get a job in the same position at the same company.
One twin spends his free time always attempting to better himself.
The other twin fell off somewhere and has a habit of living a hedonistic lifestyle.
Yeah, they’re young… They’re having fun. They’re having a blast. Let them “get it out of their system”, right?
Sure. The difference doesn’t matter then.
But…if both of them continue their current behavior for 10 years, where will they be?
What about 15 years?
That’s where the curve starts to come into play.
Your old habits will become stronger and stronger and stronger, until you can’t escape them – for better or for worse.
Think of it like building a pyramid. You construct the base. You then build off of that. Soon thereafter, you have a monument to the gods (or something like that).
The massive realization
When I first saw this graph a couple years ago, it scared the living shit out of me because I had realized how true it was in my own life.
I wasn’t living my life right.
I was constantly sleeping in, constantly procrastinating, partying too much – and I knew it.
But I kept thinking that somehow I would magically change and all would be well in the world.
Well, I was DEAD wrong.
Reading the Slight Edge was a massive wake up call for me because I realized that I need to start and pronto.
I knew I needed to start reading books.
I knew I needed to start working out.
I knew I needed to build up some desirable skills.
I realized if I wanted to get onto the success curve, I would have to start small, be patient, use incremental change, and most importantly of all – be consistent.
It was hard at first to change my ways, but any change is hard when you first begin. But it’s worth it.
Yes, we all want things NOW. But time will pass sooner than you think. The only question is whether you arrived at a desirable destination or not.
You arrive at that desirable destination through the moment-to-moment monitoring of your actions.
“The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffet
Most people are using the slight edge against themselves.
The real tragedy of life is that most people are using the the law of incremental change and the slight edge against themselves unknowingly. Cause here’s the deal:
If you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse.
The slight edge. Very simple concept to understand, very simple to internalize.
Very easy NOT to do.
No one will punish you if you do not implement the slight edge. No one is going to hold your hand and lead you up the success curve.
Only you can grab yourself by the bootstraps, man up and start climbing.
It’s hard, yes…but a life of mediocrity and frustration is even harder.
7 ways to implement the slight edge
Here’s 7 ways you can implement the slight edge today.
1. Show Up
If you want any chance at getting better, you have to commit to doing better every day.
Just even a little bit will move that needle to help you get to where you want to be. It all adds up.
Do your best and give your best.
2. Be Consistent
We know this by now. Slight edge principles require consistency. Keep it simple and make good choices daily.
Don’t do anything that could sabotage your success.
3. Have a Good Attitude
The difference between winners and losers is their attitude. You can have all the money and success in the world but if you have a shitty mindset, you won’t get much farther and you’ll probably lose it.
You need to think powerful thoughts.
4. Stay in the Game
Success is not overnight. You need to be in the game for a long time. It takes on average 5 years for a new business to break even. Why not you?
You need to think long term.
Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. – Lance Armstrong
5. Believe and Burn
Faith and a burning desire will give you that fuel you need to propel you up the slight edge curve. Believe in your efforts and don’t give up at the slightest sign of opposition.
6. Pay the price
The Law of Compensation is the name of the game here. You need to give up something to gain something. What will you give up?
Integrity is known as the quality of being honest and true, no matter the situation. Slight Edge integrity involves being true to your primal inclinations.
In this fast paced world we live in, we all have a pressing sense of urgency – I get that. We feel as if time is slipping away from us (which it definitely is, make no mistake). But… the person who has the positive variation of the slight edge on their side, time works FOR them.
It’s easy to think success is achieved through a grand gesture, through massive steps. But it’s not. It’s always the small, tiny things that make you succeed or fail.
Mastering the Slight Edge requires patience and persistence.
If you’re not on the winning side, you can easily be. Resolve today to start small. Do a simple action every day. Eat a piece of fruit every day. Walk around the block. Read ten pages of a good book.
These are all simple things…but they add up.
So don’t get discouraged. Remember…
An oak tree was once an acorn too.
“Time will either promote you or expose you.” – Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
Now I want to hear from you. How will you put the slight edge to work in your life today?