The Slight Edge

The Slight Edge

When people are looking down the barrel of failure in their lives, they will do whatever it takes to get themselves moving…
…you already know how to do everthing it takes to make yourself an outrageous success.
-Jeff Olson, Author of The Slight Edge

Jeff Olson is a business leader, CEO, and a perpetual student of personal development. He has spent years observing business professionals, especially himself. After watching people make and lose fortunes in business, athletics, and other worthy endeavors, Olson documented the patterns of survival, failure, success, and self-sabotage that all of us experience.

Humans are pattern-recognition engines. When we see a pattern and when we know what to do about it, we can improve our results. That’s one of the messages of The Slight Edge.

Failure, Survival, & Success

Have you ever noticed how focused you become when facing a deadline? Yeah, me too. Within each of us, there’s a potential failure and a potential success. When we’re facing down the gun-barrel of a deadline, we focus our minds, we execute, and we get the mission done. If you’re like me, you might think: “How can I make myself focus like that all the time?”

We already know what tasks to take ourselves from comfort to massive success. We just need to perform those tasks consistently over the long term. And then the results will grow over time like compound interest in an investment account. If it’s really that easy, why don’t we do it?


According to Olson, we know what to do and we’re capable of doing it, initialy. But when our expectations of massive results are not met immediately, say within the first thirty days, we give up. Is there a secret we can leverage to push ourselves beyond that period of initial enthusiasm? Yes. We need to change the way we think.

Thinking About Failure

The author gives several examples of how we might change our thoughts on the path to greater effectiveness. One example: Failure. Some of us strive to avoid failure at all costs. But if we think of failure as something to avoid, we will avoid taking risks that can potentially lead to success. In the words of Grace Hopper: “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are made for.”

Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team as a sophomore. But he worked hard and made it in his junior year. Thomas Edison endured thousands of failed experiments while developing the light bulb. Edison’s view of failure: “I have not failed. I’ve simply discovered ten thousand ways that don’t work.”

Olson has observed that successful people fail their way to the top.

Plant, Cultivate, Harvest

Sometimes we expect results without putting in the necessary work. Is it possible to harvest crops without planting seeds? If we plant seeds yet neglect to tend to the crops, what kind of harvest can we expect?

Plant, cultivate, harvest. Nature’s order works.

What is the Slight Edge?

Bottom line: The Slight Edge is the simple set of tasks must perform every day, day after day, over a long period of time, to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. This principle works with compound interest, with crops in the field, in athletics, and in business. Living according to the Slight Edge is simple, and not easy. But it’s highly effective.