Friday, May 16, 2008

Book Review : The Slight Edge - Jeff Olson

The Slight Edge – Jeff Olsen

Positive Philosophy -> Positive Attitudes -> Right Actions -> Compound Over Time
The cumulative effect of the right little things produce your ultimate result.

4 Types of Knowledge
1. Learned Knowledge (reading, studying)
2. Activity Knowledge (the knowledge that only comes from doing)
3. Modeling Knowledge (understanding and copying success)
4. Teaching Knowledge (understanding well enough to teach)

Developing knowledge begins with a cycle of Learning and Activity. You identify successful people and Model what they have done. When you become worthy of being modeled, then you Teach and gain Teaching knowledge.

We all have the same information available to us; yet only 5% of people really apply that information to achieve success. What is the difference?
Successful people use the Slight Edge in their favor.
Compound effects of decisions make you who you are.
To get the benefit, make the right decisions, repeat them, master good decisions.

Each decision is an opportunity. The Slight Edge Compounds your choice.
1. Easy to do
2. Easy to Not do
Easier to Not do right now.
Whether you do or not will not change you right now. It won’t kill you or make you better now.
But over time, the effect of compounding brings out the real effect. Bad decisions will kill you in time. Good decisions will make you a great success in time.

Success is a Progressive Realization of a worthy ideal.
Things that matter:
1. What you eat and exercise impact your health.
2. People with whom you associate.
Your income is the average of your 5 best friends.
Same is true of other thins about you. You reflect those with whom you associate.
3. What you read or learn. How you feed your mind.
Reading 10 pages per day = 15 books per year.
That much additional knowledge will change what you think about, how you think, and your success.
4. Financially, investing $2,000 per year x 6 years from age 24 = investing $2,000 per year x 33 years from age 30. The key is time. At 12% return per year, both equal $1,000,000. (It’s never too late. See “Start Late, Finish Rich”)

People have reasoning and excuses for what they do, but they miss the Truth.
Reasons are based on a “Right Now” focus.
The penny doubled for 30 days example. Most people pick the $1 million Right Now. Most people don’t understand compounding.
Compounding is easy to illustrate with money, but it really applies to everything. That is why people miss the Truth with their “Right Now” focus. It goes against their intuition and reasoning about what is the smart choice.

The solution is to see that Choices have to be based on a correct Philosophy.
Right Now focus requires “evidence.” But people don’t really perceive reality when they are just looking at “Right Now.” You can’t see the effects of compounding until so far in the future that you can no longer recognize how something happened.
The definition of a “Quantum Leap” is that over time, a change appears that we suddenly notice. The suddenness of noticing it, without the realization of how it happened, is what makes it appear to be a big event.
These are the things that feed the mentality of the big event. That mentality is what keeps 95% of people from using the slight edge to be successful.
There is no big event. There is no single act that made the critical difference.
* If you are looking for a breakthrough, you are looking in the wrong place.

Patience is a challenge for people who don’t understand the Slight Edge.
They want to know when the goal will be realized.
The answer is that we don’t know. It will probably be longer than we would like.
But inevitably it will happen, and it will seem automatic.
Time is the great equalizer. Time makes slight changes meaningful. Time tells us what the effect was of doing something a certain way.

It isn’t about willpower or motivation. It is not about making hard choices.
The Choices are easy. Choice is your most valuable gift.
The Choices you need to make are not the type that anyone will applaud or even notice.
“The Power of Now” You only live right now. Learn to make the right choices effortless.
The key principle is Time.
Everything works this way.
Compounding isn’t always about doubling. The principle of doubling is simply based on the rate of change. Even a slight rate of change eventually doubles. (The rule of 72. A 6% increase doubles every 12 cycles. 6 x 12 = 72. Different rate of change, different number of cycles mathematically required to double.)
Baseball example: The difference between a top player with a .300 batting average, and an average player with a .260 batting average is only about 1 hit per week. The difference between a hit and a strike is about ¼ inches on the bat.

Successful people take responsibility for everything, even if it isn’t fair or right.
When you blame, you give up control.
Entitlement attitude is blaming, thinking you deserve something.
Value driven attitude is a success attitude, because you do what it takes to cause.
“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame someone else.”
Blame puts you on the failure curve. Blame is giving up power.
Responsibility is the success curve. It is liberating and it gives you the power.
How we react is always within our control, regardless of the externalities.
Even if not right or true, seeing self as the cause is empowering.
The past is for learning, taking responsibility, and changing. You can’t change the past.
Looking to the future is a more powerful tool. Let the future you want pull you forward. You can change the future.
Instead of focusing on the past and bludgeoning people with what has already happened, recognize what a waste of time that is. Bad feelings and holding grudges don’t help create a better future. Instead of wasting the time, start making better choices and building a better future.

Mastery is available to anyone, right from the beginning of a path. Mastery is about getting on the path. There are no shortcuts.
Like a baby learning to walk, he never thinks of quitting. He just has to build a map for his body to know how to do it.
The real challenge of mastery is that there are too few good maps. Building the map is the activity of mastery.

Wanting is to have a Purpose and the Desire to get it.
Wanting can hurt.
Telling others about what you want can cause them to hurt.
Therefore, be careful with whom you share your goals.
Look at the size of the problem, and that tells you about the size of the person.
Gaps between where you are and where you want to be will not last forever. You have the choice of how you will move from the point where you are now to the point at which you will be in the future.
The power of your dreams is the force that will compel you to your future.
Tension can also resolve against you. If you give up your goal or settle for less to relieve the tension, then your future disappears. Unfortunately, this is the way that most people resolve the tension of what they want.
The interesting thing is that the people on the success curve, who do the difficult things early, end up being the most comfortable. The people on the failure curve ultimately end up being the ones with the stress in their lives.

4 Elements of Applying the Slight Edge
Tortoise and Hair: Key is not slow. Key is “Steady wins the race.”
More effective to do one thing every day than to do a lot at once. Momentum.
If you do it every day, you have momentum.
If you have stopped doing something, you have to start again.
When you have momentum, it is part of who you are. When you have stopped, it is not part of who you are. It also doesn’t compound.
It is also like turning the steering wheel on the car. Hard when you are stopped, easy when you are moving.

Are there incomplete things in your life? Unkept promises? Each one of them exerts a draining force on you. Incomplete things keep calling you back to the past, keeps the past alive, and prevents you from using future to pull you forward and change you.
Completing the incompletes can be difficult, even overwhelming.
All that has been compounded by the Slight Edge.
They would have been a lot easier to do then than now.
The only way you will ever complete them is to get started, and use the Slight Edge.

“Sew an Act, reap a Habit. Sew a Habit, reap a Character. Sew a Character, reap a Destiny.”
Habits are the things that you do without thinking or evaluating.
Habits that serve you well.
Habits that don’t serve you well.
Habits come from actions. Actions come from choices you make in the moment. So your habits are your habits of thought. These habits of thought come from your Philosophy.
Your habits of thought either support you or imprison you.
Instead of facing and battling habits, REPLACE habits that don’t serve you well with habits that do serve you well. Do it one step at a time, applying the Slight Edge.

Everyone goes through their day doing things.
Reflect back on what you got done during each day. Write them down each day. At the end of each week, look back and see who you are.
Accounting to yourself will help you to do the Slight Edge activities that will help you.

Make your focus all of the positive things that you are doing.
Reflection and Acknowledgement.
Keep the things you are doing in front of yourself, so that you focus on them.

The key to your success is your own personal development.
Abraham Lincoln: If I have six hours to chop down a tree, I’ll spend the first 4 hours sharpening the axe.
The axe is you.

Results come last. But people are very results focused, so they miss reality.
The flaw in this thinking is so profound, that it is affecting 95% of people.
How can you judge the results of your action, when the results come last?
What you can do with results is to learn from them.
But a focus on results is a focus on the past, and it takes you out of Now.
Personal development doesn’t focus on results, it focuses on your values.
Actions still aren’t the appropriate focus. Attitude is closer to the correct focus. But the heart of the matter is your Philosophy. It is your Thoughts that can control you Attitude, your Actions and your Results.

You can’t wait to judge your results. By then the outcome will pretty well be determined.
Your success will always be the progressive realization of a worthy ideal, so that is where you have to focus.

Plan, Do, Review
The operative Slight Edge strategy is the “continuous improvement” and “course correction” strategy. (W. Edward Demming strategy behind TQM.)
The Review and plug it back in “course correction” process is a Slight Edge strategy that compounds the seemingly small improvements into major increases in success.
It is easy to do, easy not to do. Accept the choice to do it and it will produce an incredible result.

Mentor/Apprentice Model
Learning Knowledge and Activity Knowledge are not enough today. Finding someone who has achieved success is a far more rapid means to emulating their success.
It doesn’t have to be a formal relationship. You can simply associate with the type of person you want to emulate.

What do you do with those with whom you associate?
Do you talk about blaming? Do you focus on events of the past? That is a disempowering relationship.
Empowering relationships revolve around responsibility, self-reflection and change.

How do I become a leader? So many people want to be a leader.
When others are modeling you, you have become a leader.
You only get there through self mastery and continuous learning, applying the learn/action process and building your own maps.

Turning Dreams into Reality (Achieving your goals)
1. Write it down specifically with a deadline. You have to have a vision. It has to be specific. It has to be written down. If you don’t write them down, its is just wishful thinking rather than envisioning. Writing it down is the first step of making it real to your five senses. You could use a dream board to put pictures of your goals in front of you. The description has to include a time or deadline for getting it done. (80% of what gets done is done in the last 20% of the time before the deadline.)
2. Look at your goals every day. Post them somewhere you will see them every day. Surround yourself with it. Choose supporting relationships. Your brain, including your subconscious, does a lot of work for you. If you have done step 1, above, then step 2 helps to turn your goals into reality. Life will rearrange itself to get you to the point of your goal. This law of attraction is a Slight Edge strategy.
3. Understand the Price and Pay the Price. The steps are small and easy. You do need to understand what those steps are, and you do need to take the steps. This is the act of making a Choice.
4. Start with a Plan. The Plan has to get you started. But the Plan you start with won’t be the Plan that gets you there. You are going to revise the Plan as you proceed, continuously learning and adjusting with Plan, Do, Review.

Vince Lombardi “Gentlemen, this is a football.” “Uh, coach, could you slow down a little. You’re going too fast for us.” Lombardi didn’t take anything for granted, even when working with pros. The football was Lombardi’s penny. What is your’s going to be? Then apply the 4 steps to turn your goal into reality.

Dream? Deadline? Specifics? Price? How are you going to Pay It? When and How will you Review and adjust your plan?
Personal Development:
Repeat above.
Include reading or listening to audio books as part of your personal development.
Reading is an effective source for Modeling, a pathway to mapping and developing greater knowledge.

Repeat above.
Your associations are essential.
What are the little things that will make the difference in your relationships? Tiny thoughts, gestures, easy to do and easy not to do. Begin with your family members.
Just like throwing a pebble in a pond, you will see the first couple of ripples. But you may not notice the later ripples or how far they spread out.
When will you start? What is one simple daily discipline you will live?

Repeat above.
Only 5% really understand compound interest.
Work expands to fill the time available to get it done. You tend to spend whatever you make. Rule 1: Always live below your means. (from “The Millionaire Next Door.”)

What do you want your life to mean?
Repeat above.

Where to Go from Here
Use your Philosophy to govern your life, not your moods.
Apply the principles of the Slight Edge to the things important to you, and associate with other successful people.
Find you penny, then start doubling it. You don’t start with nothing, you start with something and apply the principles of the Slight Edge.

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