Book Summaries

Book Summary – The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

In The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness, authors  Jeff Olson and John David Mann write about the simple daily disciplines required for success: They are usually simple but also hard to do.

The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But they’re also just as easy not to do.

The Day of Disgust

When people are looking down the barrel of failure in their lives, they will do whatever it takes to get themselves moving, something, anything, to start climbing upward toward the point of survival. And then, once they get to the point where they’re keeping their heads above water, they start heading back down again. As they start getting close enough to the failure line that they can see it coming, they go, “Whoops, I’m headed towards failure!” and then they do whatever it takes to turn their trajectory around and start heading back up … and the cycle repeats.

Simple Daily Discipline

The things that take you out of failure and up toward survival and success are simple. So simple, in fact, that it’s easy to overlook them. Extremely easy to overlook them.

It’s easy to overlook them because when you look at them, they seem insignificant. They’re not big, sweeping things that take huge effort. They’re not heroic or dramatic. Mostly they’re just little things you do every day and that nobody else even notices. They are things that are so simple to do—yet successful people actually do them, while unsuccessful people only look at them and don’t take action.

The Missing Ingredient – Your Philosophy

Changing the way you think about simple everyday things. Once you do, then you will take the steps you need to take, to lead you to the how-to’s you need. If you don’t change how you think about these simple everyday things, then no amount of how-to’s will get you anywhere or give you any true solutions. Because it’s not the hows that do it, it’s how you do the hows.

The reason diets and self-help courses and weight-loss programs and other how-to’s don’t work for most people is the same reason most how-to books and courses don’t work for most people. It isn’t that the actions are wrong. It’s that people don’t keep doing them.

“Focusing on the actions, the what-to-dos and the how-to-do-its, is not enough, because it’s the attitude behind the actions that keep those actions in place.”

Your philosophy is what you know, how you hold what you know, and how it affects what you do. You can look at anyone’s actions and trace back, through the attitudes behind those actions, to their source: the philosophy behind the attitudes. Show me what a man does, and I’ll show you his philosophy.

Quantum Leap

A true quantum leap is what happens when a subatomic particle suddenly jumps to a higher level of energy. But it happens as a result of the gradual buildup of potential caused by energy being applied to that particle over time. An actual quantum leap is something that finally happens after a lengthy accumulation of slight-edge effort.


People who live by the slight edge understand how luck really works. It’s not preparedness meeting opportunity: it’s preparedness, period. Preparedness created by doing those simple, little, constructive, positive actions, over and over. Luck is when that constancy of preparedness eventually creates opportunity.

Why we don’t do the easy things

Reason #1: They’re Easy to Do

The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But they’re also just as easy not to do. It’s easy to save a few bucks a day. And easy not to.

The successful and unsuccessful both do the same basic things in their lives, day in and day out. Yet the things successful people do take them to the top, while the things unsuccessful people do take them down and out. So what’s the difference? The difference is their awareness, understanding, and application of the slight edge in their life and work.

Reason #2: The Results Are Invisible

The second reason people don’t do the little things that add up to success is that at first, they don’t add up to success. The doomed frog quit paddling in the cream because he’d been doing it as hard as he could, and it obviously wasn’t having any effect. At least, not one he could see.

When you make the right choice, you don’t see the results, at least not today. And that is a problem in our push-button, mouse-click, 24-hour-news world. We expect to see results, and we expect to see them now.

Reason #3: They Seem Insignificant

The third reason most people live out their entire lives without ever grasping how the slight edge is working in their lives it that is just seems like those little things don’t really matter.

The difference between success and failure is not dramatic. In fact, the difference between success and failure is so subtle, so mundane, that most people miss it.

Successful people are those who understand that the little choices they make matter, and because of that they choose to do things that seem to make no difference at all in the act of doing them, and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.

Phases of Truth

All truth passes through three stages,” the great German philosophy Arthur Schopenhauer reportedly observed. “First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Gandhi put it this way: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

The majority always let the first and second phases pass them by and wait until a truth is self-evident before signing on. The key to success is to identify those things that are eventually going to become self-evident before they are self-evident. Or to put it even more simply: find out what the majority is doing and do the opposite—which can be uncomfortable. At least at first, when the 95 percent are ignoring you, laughing at you, or fighting you. But in the end, you win.

Tension makes people uncomfortable

Tension is uncomfortable. That’s why it sometimes makes people uncomfortable to hear about how things could be. One of the reasons Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech made such a huge impact on the world and carved such a vivid place in our cultural memory is that it made the world of August 1963 very uncomfortable. John Lennon painted his vision of a more harmonious world in the song Imagine. Within the decade, he was shot to death. Gandhi, Jesus, Socrates … our world can be harsh on people who talk about an improved reality. Visions and visionaries make people uncomfortable.

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |