Incremental Change: Living Life with a Slight Edge
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Incremental Change: Living Life With a Slight Edge

Many people think there’s a super-wide chasm that separates “success” and “failure”. Nope.

It seems as if that’s the case considering the amount of people out there living their dreams vs. people who aren’t.

But if you ask anyone who is what you or other people would call a “success” and they’ll tell you variations of “hard work”. Yes, hard work is very important. But it’s not the only determining factor in success or failure.

Success is mainly one thing: consistency. But it’s not only consistency. It’s the right consistency that will give you that “slight edge”.

What is the “slight edge”?

A better question would be to ask, what isn’t the slight edge?

Everything you see is a result of slight edge application. The car that you drive. The house or apartment complex you live in. The computer, phone, or tablet you’re reading this on… All of these are a result of continuous improvements over time and incremental change. All slight edge principles and application.

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 Deviation Curve

Slight Edge Life Paths

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 start 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:

Let’s take two guys.

They’re strapping 21 year old lads who grew up with similar family dynamics, grew up in the same area, went to the same schools (including college). They decide to get a job in the same position at the same company.

One guy spends his free time always attempting to better himself.

The other fellow fellow 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.

The slight edge compounds. Your new disciplines stack on top of your existing disciplines. This incremental change can have a massive effect on your life.

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).

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

If you’re doing things that degrade you instead of build you up, this will compound as well.

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 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.

Here’s two examples of incremental change and slight edge principles.


If you’ve stuck around for any period of time, you’ll see that I advocate reading.

That’s because reading gives you information to help move you up this slight edge curve. It does depend on what you’re reading but I’m going to assume you aren’t reading trash (I’m looking at you tabloids).

Let’s take a hypothetical scenario of a guy who likes reading. He isn’t happy with his life circumstances and he wants to change them. He decides to read all he can about how to change a certain area of his life.

His increased skills allow him to help others. He starts to believe in himself. His income increases every year. Reading books gives him a better foundation to read more books and learn more things. His life starts to ascend the upward slight edge curve at an exponential pace. If he keeps up this pace of self-improvement, where will he be in let’s say…20 years?

I don’t know. Check back in 20 years. He might write a post on here about it.


You just smoke it and you’re g-g-gone!! And it feels grrreat.

“That was nice”, you say to yourself. That was this past weekend. It was awesome, but you’re probably not going to do it again. Because let’s get real… you can’t get that high again. There’s no way in hell you’re gonna make it man. It was just a quick thing, an experience. Let’s forget it, ya.

Weekend rolls around again. Partay time! Oh man, your friends are also doing those same things you did last weekend. You don’t want to look like a loser… plus. It’s just one. more. time. It also was pretty cool the first time.

Oh boy, that feeling comes back and it’s awesome! But it’s not as great as the first time you did it… What gives? Eh, maybe just some more won’t hurt… Again it feels great…but it’s not the same.

Another weekend rolls around. Repeat. Soon, you do it every day. In 20 years, where will this person be?

Not in a good place, most likely.

These are all peachy examples, but you don’t have to look far to find failure or success. Not far at all. Especially failure. This is because….

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 against themselves unknowingly. Cause here’s the deal:

If you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse.

This stuff isn’t new. This has been explained in texts such as the Bible, scientific journals on habit formation, and even in nature itself. If you’re into “laws” and stuff like that, another way to name it would be The Law of Compensation or The Law of Cause and Effect.

Incremental Change and The Slight Edge

The slight edge. Very simple concept to understand, very simple to internalize.

Very easy NOT to do.

The slight edge and incremental change offers unlimited upside…but unlimited destruction as well.

So…What are you gonna do? 

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. There will always be a path carved, a way made for the person who has taken the time to carve it for themselves.

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.

You can do all of these…or none of these. Whatever it is, you need to get yourself on the upper side of that slight edge curve.

So don’t get discouraged. Remember…

An oak tree was once an acorn too.

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.

2. Be Consistent

We know this by now. Slight edge principles require consistency. Keep it simple and make good choices daily.

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.

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?

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

Once again, 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?

7. Integrity

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.


Now i want to hear from you. How will you put the slight edge to work in your life today?

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