Note: I drafted this post on 9/1/2020 and finalized today.
Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge
One Sentence Summary: If you do easy things frequently they add up over time.
Scope of book: Generally narrow. Touches on some related topics but typically for just a few pages and not enough to really get anyone to make change or an understanding in those areas.
Audience /Recommended For: Beginners.
Delivery Method: 30% knowledge 60% inspiration and testimonials. 10% anecdotes.
Mentality: Firmly in the industrial-era mentality of self development. People like Napoleon Hill or Jim Rohn are mentioned every few pages.
Experience: Experienced Coach
Writing Style: Rah Rah and Coachy. Way more customer testimonials than I thought was needed.
Writing Competency: He’s a good writer. Message is honed and polished.
Padding: Second half is 50% not rehash.
Upselling: No upselling.
Biggest Con: Keeps telling you how great the book is. Off the chart with the number of testimonials in this book. Fortunately they are conveniently placed in callouts that you can ignore.
Anecdotes: More than I needed and longer than I needed in many cases.
Organization of material: OK
Promises: Definitely promises you a lot, especially with the testimonials.
What I Got Out Of The Slight Edge
Note: this is not intended to be an accurate representation of what the book is about. These are just things I learned, reminders I appreciated and other odds and ends.
“What’s the formula for success? Double your rate of failure” – Thomas Watson
“Successful people do SIMPLE things that are EASY to do.”
“Do the thing and you will have the power.”
For me, these are reminders that I don’t need to do “a book a day” or “an hour at the gym each day”. I can do far less, an amount that is still enjoyable and sustainable, and it will ADD UP.
“Easy to do is also easy NOT to do.”
This quote shows the value of incremental progress not from the perspective of potential gain but from the angle of potential loss. When I feel like “oh I’ll postpone it” that should be a flag to consider if it’s one of the easy things I should be doing because those easy things add up. This might be the most important thing I got from the book. Easy to do a little bit of exercise is also easy to not do that little bit of exercise. The problem is that it adds up and compounding works both ways. Small easy things add up to great mountains or terrible pits depending on which small things you choose.
“Easy things compound exponentially over time.”
This quote is kind of rehash of the main point, but repetition helps it sink in.
“If you want things to compound you have to do something. For example, read 10 pages a day.“
The 10 pages a day thing was something my friend Fred told me about a couple years ago. It really changed the way I approached reading. If Olson was the reason I heard about this from Fred, that was worth the price of the book right there. 10 pages a day – easy! Oh, and btw that works out to about 300 pages a month (2 books?), which is over 20 books a year. What!
“There is no silver bullet.“
I can’t be reminded of this enough.
7 Principles of The Slight Edge
- Show up.
- Be consistent about it.
- Have a good attitude.
- Have faith and a burning desire.
- Accept that you are in it for the long haul.
- Be willing to pay the price.
- Have integrity.
Seems all common sense. Yes. Because it is. But I enjoyed seeing the list and reflecting on how much of them I am applying to my current goals.
Olson says that in practice, “The Edge” follows this path:
These received just a cursory examination from Olson, so don’t expect to learn how to DO these things. But if you are wondering what the Slight Edge means in practice, these are indicators if you are doing simple things easy.
Worth the price for the few good ideas and reminders I got.
Apparently earlier editions lack the onslaught of customer testimonials slathered throughout my version so maybe get an older copy.