Imagine this: a wealthy man gives you two choices. He will gifts you a million dollars in liquid cash right now…or a penny doubled every day for 30 days. Which one would you choose?
“I’d take the million…gimme, gimme, gimme!”
I can see you salivating right now. But…not so fast.
Wouldn’t you rather consider the penny?
“C’mon. It’s just a penny.”
Ah… that’s where you’re wrong.
It’s just a penny – but that’s all you usually start out with. If you took the choice of the penny doubled every 30 days, you’d be a multi-millionaire at day 30. To the tune of 10 million dollars to be exact. Do the math if you doubt it.
“But that’s not possible!”
But it is possible. It’s the only thing that’s possible. It’s the slight edge.
The Subtle Power of the Slight Edge
The book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson describes how small, seemingly insignificant choices have a massive impact on us down the line. He uses the example of the penny to get his point across sharply.
Continuous 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.
You see, our actions don’t occur in a vacuum. They build upon past actions of a similar nature.
You start with one. One becomes two. Two becomes four. So on and so forth. It gets easier to build off of a foundation.
This is how habits such as discipline are created.
Because of this…the slight edge is great! But – it works in the opposite direction as well. If you indulge in bad habits and self-destructive behavior, you will find it easier to do those things over time.
Your successes and failures compound on each other.
But here’s the thing: this is so subtle. By the time you realize what has happened – your results are already evident.
This is why success is not an accident. Sadly, failure is not an accident either. In fact, they’re separated by a fine line. The line is what you do or fail to do consistently over a given period of time.
The Importance of the Slight Edge
You may think this is all theory with no real life application. If you do, I urge you to look around. The car you drive, the computer you use, the body you have, the job you have – all of it is a result of slight edge application.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It was built brick by brick.
Microsoft didn’t dominate the computer industry in a day. It started with an idea by a Harvard dropout.
You don’t have an awesome relationship in a day. It takes time.
Your health isn’t destroyed in a day. It’s from eating bad foods and indulging in bad habits over time.
You don’t develop a great skill set and reach the top of your field in a day. It takes deliberate practice constructed on a strong base of fundamentals.
There’s no such thing as “big breaks” or “quantum leaps”. Every success or failure doesn’t come in an instant.
How to Use the Compounding Technique
“Every day, in every moment, you get to exercise choices that will determine whether or not you will become a great person, living a great life.” – Jeff Olson
Living a slight edge life is very easy to do. But it’s easy not to do.
That’s why so many people fall into mediocrity, failure, and living a life that they don’t want to live.
But that’s not you. You want to live an expansive life. A life of passion, fulfilment, and excitement.
You want to live a life where you can tell story after entertaining story because you decided to be fully engaged… rather than wave the white flag of surrender.
How do you get to that life? The slight edge. The following are some ways that you can implement slight edge improvements into your life.
1. Start Small
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain
If you want to become a great success in anything, you need to start. Just take the first step.
Maybe you want to start a business. How do you get from where you are to “Apple status?” Easy. You start.
It might by registering your business as an entity, making a website, or getting the word out to prospective buyers to gauge interest.
Whatever it is, you need to start gaining momentum.
Once you take the first step, you then take the second, then the third…then very soon…you’re in a whole different place.
But don’t be one of those people who just talks but never takes action. We have too many people like that in the world. Don’t let self-limiting beliefs prevent you from pressing that “big red button”.
2. Stay on the path
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn
Once you start, you need to stay on it.
You need to be like a dog with a steak in its mouth. No matter how hard you pull, the dog will hold onto the steak. You need to be uncompromising, you need to be relentless, you need to say:
“this is how it’s going to be and this is how I’m going to do it.”
Once you do that, you need to be consistent. Consistency is the name of the game.
Consistency will move you up the slight edge curve and create this awesome thing I talked about earlier called “habit”. Once something’s a habit, you don’t need to “think” about it anymore. You just do it. It is literally etched into your nervous system.
Pretty awesome but pretty scary at the same time.
3. Positive associations
“Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.” – Colin Powell
Here’s the thing about other people’s influence…
You are the average of the 5 people you hang around most. We are greatly influenced by people more than we think.
If your friends are killing it in life, you’ll also slay it in life.
If your friends are potheads, you’ll also be a pothead.
It’s not a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of “when”.
You need to do everything you can to be around people who have a positive inflection on life. In addition to that, you need to steep your mind in positive material – daily.
Positivity is a key component to the slight edge because it keeps you going when you feel as if all of your small disciplines aren’t moving the needle. You need to always believe that you’re advancing by even the smallest amount a day.
4. Think long term
“You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.” – Seneca
This is probably the most important tip. The slight edge only takes its advantage from time. Just like depositing money into a savings account with interest, it will take time to grow.
Ask yourself this important question:
“if I continue with this path I’m on, where will I be in 5 years?”
You may think 5 years is a long time. But look back on the last 5 years of your life. How fast did that pass? Then in another 5 years, you’ll be wondering where the last 5 went…or not. IF you use the slight edge.
You may have experienced a set back now…but what about later?
You may be broke now…but what about later?
Deciding not to read didn’t bring you back now…but what about later?
It’s all up to you…
Your Next Steps
Take a new inventory of yourself in all areas of your life.
Take a look at your career, your relationships, your finances, your health… Anything and everything that makes up the fabric of your life.
Where are they headed?
Is your career allowing you to grow professionally and personally every day?
If you’re in a romantic relationship, are you getting closer every day?
Is your net worth growing each day?
Is your health increasing each day?
Some of your areas in your life may be on the upswing, others are on the decline. How can you align your life for everything to go up, up, up?
What will you have to stop or start doing in order to live a better life?