A Slight Edge Makes a Huge Impact


A few years ago on a flight home from Portland to Denver, I interrupted a woman seated next to me who was deeply engaged in a book. “What are you reading?” I inquired. “Oh, it’s an amazing book called The Slight Edge. You ought to check it out.” And with that, she returned to the book without uttering another word for the remainder of the trip.

I jotted the title down, only to be reminded of it a month or so ago when I randomly found it in my Evernote cache.

So what’s the principle message of The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success and Happiness? Quite simply, it is that success and failure are largely predicated on the small choices that we either make or don’t make each day. The truth is that these choices will do little to change the trajectory of our lives in the short-term. However, compounded over time, they have a massive positive or negative impact on our lives.

With the ushering in of a New Year, I have been thinking quite a bit about this message, relative to my own personal scenario, particularly as it relates to finances. What this book clearly suggests is that a lack of responsibility, or neglect over time within a core area of one’s life, can yield some serious consequences.

Like a woodpecker whacking away at a tree, an activity performed consistently in small measured doses over time can yield significant results. This belief runs counter to that which predominates in our western world, which is a need for immediate gratification and results. Counter this with the “Chinese Bamboo Tree” allegory, and one has the formula for long-term sustained success.

In applying the principles contained in the book to financial responsibility, Slight Edge author Jeff Olson exhorts the reader to ‘start small, with a penny.’ Just think about it – a mere penny, doubled each day over the course of 30 days, yields an astounding $5,368,709.12! But the larger message here is that whether it be purchasing gold, reading 10 pages of a book or another daily habit, the impact of compounding can be massive. It is exactly the same – though an opposite effect – with neglect or irresponsibility which can have a sustained, adverse effect on our life if it is not addressed.

Another factor in this whole success equation is what is referred to as the Pareto Principle. It beckons us to continually look at what we’re focusing on; what Jeff Olson calls the One Thing. As this principle states, 80% of outcomes come from the 20% of important activities and targets upon which we focus. I’ve found this to be so true, particularly as it relates to personal finances. For it is so easy to engage in counter-productive money practices, pursuing material items that we believe will fill an unacknowledged need. That’s why the daily, long-term habit of budgeting is so vital in building our financial future. As personal finance guru Dave Ramsey guru says “

As personal finance guru Dave Ramsey guru says “be a crockpot, not a microwave.”

The overriding message here is that success in life comes from those small and intentional decisions that we make daily. Have you read The Slight Edge? If not, I encourage you to do so. And if you have, well let us know your thoughts and how it has impacted your life.

Until next time, Be Responsible!

Michael Scott is a Denver-based journalist specializing in disruptive free market themes impacting the new digital economy. More on Michael’s work can be found at BitDisrupt