I recently finished reading Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge and it really challenged me to think about how my simple daily decisions have an effect on my future. The small habits we don’t think about compound over time and lead us to where we want to go, or not. Olson writes about a way of thinking, the “slight edge”, where each little choice you make matters, even though we act like it’s just the big decisions that change things in our lives.
This book is built from common sense, but it also dramatically portrays how much we tend to undervalue the simple easy decisions, and in the end they decide much of where we get to in life. Here are a few examples demonstrating the slight edge…
Basketball player: You commit to doing 5 minutes of ball handling every day. After one month, that is 2.5 hours of added ball handling improvement to your game. After a year, that is over 30 hours of ball handling, and no question your game will improve as your handle is tighter and you are more confident. (Or, you don’t think it’s that important each morning and you do it twice a week some weeks, once a week some weeks, and take the season off because you are playing at practice every day anyway. At the end of a year, you have done 6.5 hours of ball handling on your own…likely feeling little improvement)
Parent: You commit to being healthier as a family and you are going to exercise 20 minutes every day. You make time to run in the morning, go to the gym during lunch, or walk the dog in the evening each day. You skip a few days here and there, but you are really consistent. At the end of a month, you have more energy, you model healthy behavior for your family, and you can feel your fitness increase. (Or, you don’t commit to a workout plan, you exercise a few times a week, when you feel like it, and your gains are average and inconsistent.)
Personal Improvement: You commit to reading just ten pages of a book each day (this takes 6-10 minutes). At the end of a month, you have read at least a whole book. At the end of the year, you have read twelve books, adding knowledge in areas you are interested in. Just think if you doubled it to twenty pages! (Or, you read every once in awhile, on Sundays, and you read a new book or two (maybe) in a year.)
I would encourage you to find this book and read it. Because it is so applicable and clearly explained, it truly is a book for anyone, at any point in their life (high school student, parent, retiree). Here are my book notes if you want to read more and see some of my takeaways from reading it.
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