“The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson Book Review, Chapters 10-13

Moving to Jacksonville, FL has really rocked my world. It’s hard keeping up with mundane tasks when you’re creating a whole new life, so I’ll admit – I’ve slipped up. Olson is right, “it’s just as easy to do as not to do“. However, I’m getting more settled in and creating my new life and with that I am creating new, positive tasks that will in turn make my life better. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Take Elly on a hour long walk every day
  2. Have a friendly conversation with 1 coworker a day
  3. Read a chapter of a book every day
  4. Write every day

I’ve been good so far at taking Elly for long walks, talking to my coworkers, and writing is keeping me sane, but I am slipping up on my reading. So if you’re wondering why this review is a bit off schedule – that’s why. But here we go, let’s dive into the next four chapters of The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.


Chapter 10: Two Life Paths

Chapter 10 hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve read plenty of things that have “spoken” to me, but this chapter kind of slapped me. Olson starts off talking about the alarm going off at 6 a.m., hitting the snooze button, and making the choice to either get up, read, and exercise or lay in bed, watch crappy news, and be lazy. How many of us are already slightly creeped out Olson is watching us from our windows on a Friday morning?

Greatness is always in the moment of the decision…

Chapter 10, Page 141

There are many great parts of this chapter that I want you to read on your own, but I’ll give you my favorite: Blame and Responsibility.

Olson talks about how negative things are going to happen to all of us throughout the course of our lives no matter what. We can’t change the fact that bad things happen, but it’s how we react to those bad things and who or what we place the blame on.

Taking responsibility for the bad things is hard. Sometimes they aren’t your fault and it can be easier to put the crappy stuff onto someone else’s plate. People who live on the negative side of the slight edge live their entire lives pushing crappy things onto people. They don’t take responsiblity for their actions, their thoughts, the world around them, or even what they had for breakfast. Everything is their moms, ex-wives, friends, coworkers, bosses fault. They are always in the right. I knew someone like this. I dated someone like this. Hell, I was engaged to someone like this. This is not what you want or need when you’re living in the slight edge.

This is why this chapter hit me so hard. I could never figure out why I was always taking responsibility for things I hadn’t done and who kept pushing it onto me. Well…

Take the time to read this chapter and find out if you’re a blamer or if you’re the one taking responsibility for your actions. Hint: the ones who take responsibility are the ones living on the positive side of the slight edge.

Chapter 11: Mastering the Slight Edge

Mastery is something we can all accomplish. Olson writes how when we were all just babies we mastered walking within our first few steps. Mastering the slight edge is just the same. Taking small steps that compound upon one another until the thing has been mastered.

There is a gap between beginning something and mastering it. Closing the gap is nothing more than a want or a desire to do so. People who live on the downward slope of the slight edge are usually uncomfortable with hearing and encouraging your wants because they’ve realized they’ve somehow lost the drive for their own.

The pain of wanting, the burning desire to possess what you lack, is one of the greatest allies you have. It is a force you can harness to create whatever you want in your life.

Chapter 11, Page 163

I really like this chapter because Olson paints a clear picture of how easy it is to master the slight edge. It isn’t a game of chance or can be left up to the universe. It’s all about making a choice and sticking to your guns. You are in charge of your mastery of the slight edge which puts you completely in charge of your destiny.

Chapter 12: Invest in Yourself

So my last blog was about cheering yourself on, right? If you haven’t read it – do so now. I hadn’t read this chapter yet when I wrote it, but it totally validates everything I was feeling! Olson makes some incredible points that make you say, “that’s easy, I can do that,” but are we actually doing them? Are we waking up earlier every day? Are we walking for an hour? Are we doing our mundane tasks? This is a beefy chapter, so get ready to read and break out your highlighter.

Continuous Learning: this is learning by doing. There are many ways to do this, but, as Olson writes, if you aren’t doing you’re dying. Let that sink in.

The Rhythm of Learning: this is learning by relearning. Olson uses the example of reading a book, putting it on the shelf, and then a year later re-reading the book only to find more insight than the first time. This happens to me all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read The Bell Jar and I’m still astonished, moved, and inspired every. Single. Time. Learning is a cycle that should never end, but so easily can.

Course Correction: this is learning by correcting. Always checking with yourself that you’re doing the right thing is a conscious, tiring task that many of us don’t take the time to do, but what if we did? What if we took the time to be genuinely concerned about how we could correct ourselves to be successful? I’m a firm believer in trial and error and it’s an advantage when you’re living by the Slight Edge.

Would you like me to give you the formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure… You’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure – or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success. On the other side of failure.

Thomas Watson
Chapter 12, Page 182

Your Internal Gyroscope: this is learning by dreaming. You can only achieve your slight edge goals by having an end in mind. Whether this is financial success, health, successful relationships – whatever – the slight edge can’t be done without the vision. Your internal gyroscope is the dream and the slight edge is the processor. It guides you to your dream and keeps you on course. However, this processor only tells you what to do – it’s your job to actually do it.

This is a great chapter. I suggest reading it if you’re looking for ways to inspire that “personal development” bug that’s chirping in your ear. If you’re like me and you like step-by-step plans, and especially one that helps you master the slight edge, I suggest dog-earing these pages.

Chapter 13: Learn from Mentors

Let me just brag for a moment and say that I have some incredible mentors. The two women who have helped me on my journey through applying for law school, getting this job in Jacksonville, and introduced me to this book are the most amazing people I know. I am incredibly blessed they’ve decided to invest their time into me.

Thank you Ginger. Thank you Michelle.

Olson start off by speaking of his first mentor, Clyde Share. He writes about how it all started with a cup of coffee that grew to weekly, bi-weekly, daily, and before he knew it Olson was at the top of the food chain and guiding him along was Clyde.

Olson asks us a question: Who are your heroes? Who are you modeling yourself after? When I think about that question and my current situation I imagine a blank canvas. All the people I know and usually surround myself with are 1400 miles away. I have a rare and exciting opportunity to cultivate a new circle of heroes. I want a healthy balance of professional and personal heroes. Don’t get me wrong, there are some 1400 miles away that I still want in my circle, but there are a few that will be getting the boot.

Olson talks about the five friends you surround yourself and how you become them. Mannerisms, financial status, health, how they treat others -all that jazz. All six of you become this blob of whatever attributes make each of you unique. Again, I have the opportunity to create a new five friends. A new blob. I am excited to find my blob.

The last thought that provokes my attention in this chapter are these words:

Sometimes you need to let go and disassociate.

Chapter 13, Page 203

Cutting the toxicity out of your life can be the most healthy, yet hard, form of self-care. Letting go of the negative, hurtful people and bringing in the ones that light up your life will do wonders. You can trust both Olson and me when we preach this.


Overall:

Part 2 of the Slight Edge is hitting home more than I thought it would. Part 1 is filled with the idea, fluff, and nice words and Part 2 is really coming at you with the meat and actual steps you can take to live the slight edge philosophy. I’m encouraged to invest in myself, seek out a circle, take my path along the curve, and master the slight edge.

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All quotes/paraphrases/paragraphs: Olson, Jeff. The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success and Happiness. Goko Publishing, 2016.