Notes & Quotes: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

The following are my favorite quotes from Jeff Olson's The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness:
  1. I didn't change who I am, because no matter what the gurus and therapists might tell you, I don't believe any of us can really do that. I mean, we are who we are.
  2. For things to be different, I had to do something different.
  3. The shift in my life began happening when I stopped taking it for granted that just because I was an average guy, that meant I was doomed to no more than average results.
  4. You already know how to do everything it takes to make you an outrageous success. That's how you've survived up to this point. And if you can survive, then you can succeed.
  5. Simple productive actions, repeated consistently over time. That, in a nutshell, is the slight edge.
  6. No matter how much information there is, and no matter how good that information is, if the person consuming it doesn't have the right catalyst, the catalyst that will allow them to apply that information effectively, then success will still elude their grasp.
  7. What you need to transform your life is not more information.
  8. There are two prevalent types of attitudes: entitled and value-driven. A value-driven attitude says, "What can I do to help you?" An entitled attitude says, "What have you done for me lately?" An entitled attitude says, "Pay me more, and then maybe I'll work harder." A value-driven attitude says, "I'll work harder, and then I expect you'll pay me more."
  9. Successful people fail their way to the top.
  10. It's never too late to start. It's always too late to wait.
  11. The things you do every single day, the things that don't look dramatic, that don't even look like they matter, do matter. That they not only make a difference -- they make all the difference.
  12. Jim Rohn: The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But they're also just as easy not to do.
  13. We're all doing simple things anyway. Unsuccessful people just choose what they think is the path of least resistance.
  14. Read just ten pages of a good book, a book aimed at improving your life, every day.
  15. Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.
  16. Will power is vastly overrated..
  17. There is a natural progression in life: you plant, then you cultivate, and finally you harvest.
  18. In three to five years you can put virtually anything in your life solidly onto the right track.
  19. Waiting for "some day" is no strategy for success, it's a cop-out.
  20. Your ship's not coming -- it's already here. Docked and waiting. You already have the money. You already have the time. You already have the skill, the confidence. You already have everything you need to achieve everything you want. You just can't see it. Why not? Because you're looking in the wrong place. You're looking for the breakthrough, the quantum leap. You're looking for the winning lottery ticket in a game that isn't a lottery.
  21. Any time you see what looks like a breakthrough, it is always the end result of a long series of little things, done consistently over time. No success is immediate or instantaneous; no collapse is sudden or precipitous. They are both products of the slight edge.
  22. Our entire health crisis is nothing but one set of little decisions, made daily and compounded daily, winning out over another set of little decisions, made daily and compounded daily.
  23. Liberty in the modern world (assuming you don't live in North Korea or some other pocket of political oppression) means finances. If you don't have money handled, you don't live free. Financial health gives you freedom; freedom to follow your passions, chase your pursuits, develop your skills and talents and gifts, to fulfill the promises of life itself.
  24. Once you do what it takes to raise your everyday level of happiness, then you will become more successful, then you'll become healthier, then you'll find that relationship. The more you raise your own happiness level, the more likely you'll start achieving all those things you want to achieve.
  25. If you take a pair of average, loving parents and tell them, "I can make your child more personally developed, or I can make your child rich -- which would you prefer?" most likely they would say, "Rich." But if you say, "I can make your child either rich, or happy," then nine times out of ten they'd immediately choose happiness.
  26. Comparing happiness, which virtually everyone wants, and personal development, which only 1 out of 10 at best are really interested in, at the heart of it we're really talking about the same thing. When you read all the research about what it takes to raise your level of happiness, you begin to realize that these scientists are describing exactly the same kinds of behaviors that all the personal development teachers have been advocating for decades, just applied in a slightly different context.
  27. Your attitude is the thing that translates your abstract understanding (philosophy) into your concrete actions. It's like a gigantic synapse, where a nerve impulse has to make a biochemical leap from one nerve ending to another -- and your attitude is what determines the quality of that leap.
  28. Another word for attitude is emotions, that is, how you feel.
  29. Shawn Achor's five happy habits:
    1. Each morning write down three new things you're grateful for.
    2. Journal for two minutes a day about a positive experience from the past 24 hours.
    3. Meditate daily for a few minutes.
    4. At the start of each day, write an email to someone praising or thanking them.
    5. Get fifteen minutes of simple cardio exercise a day.
  30. Even if I was surrounded by people who were more talented than I was, I knew I could surpass them just by consistently showing up and doing the work.
  31. Everyone wants to know that they make a difference in the world -- that their lives matter.
  32. Jerry Wilson describes how he based his revolutionary "exceptional customer service" strategy on a single earthshaking statistic he'd discovered in marketing research: the average customer will tell three people about a positive experience with a business or product, but will talk about a negative experience to thirty-three people.
  33. When you don't take responsibility, when you blame others, circumstances, fate, or chance, you give away your power.
  34. Don't complain about what you allow.
  35. It seems most people live with one foot in the past, saying, "If only things had been different, I would be successful." And the other foot in the future saying, "When this or that happens, I will be happy and successful." And they completely ignore the present -- which is the only place where life actually occurs.
  36. Review the past, but only for the purpose of making a better plan. Review it, understand and take responsibility for the errors you've made, and use it as a tool to do differently in the future.
  37. Our world can be harsh on people who talk about an improved reality. Visions and visionaries make people uncomfortable.
  38. The size of the problem determines the size of the person. You can gauge the limitations of a person's life by the size of the problems that get him or her down. You can measure the impact a person's life has by the size of the problems he or she solves...the size of your income will be determined by the size of the problems you solve, too.
  39. There are only two possibilities. Either you let go of where you are and get to where you could be, or you hang onto where you are and give up where you could be. You are either going for your dreams or giving up your dreams. Stretching for what you could be, or settling for what you are. There is simply no in-between.
  40. Being contrary for contrary's sake is just another type of conformity: you're still a slave to the majority, only expressed in oppositional terms.
  41. Have you ever seen a statue erected for a critic?
  42. At the average funeral, I read, about ten people cry. I couldn't believe it. I had to read the paragraph over again to make sure I'd gotten it right. "Ten people -- that's it? You mean I go through my entire life, spend years enduring all those trials and tribulations and achievements and joys and heartbreaks -- and at the end of it there are only ten people in the world who care enough to show up and cry?" I went on to the next paragraph. It got worse. Once those ten (or fewer) people had yanked their hankies and honked their schnozzes and my funeral was over, the number one factor that would determine how many people would go on from the funeral to attend the actual burial would be... the weather. The weather? Yes. It if happened to be raining 50% of the people who attended my funeral would decide maybe they wouldn't go on to attend my burial after all, and just head home.
  43. Mastery begins the moment you step onto the path. Failure begins the moment you step off the path.
  44. If you are one the 58% who never picks up a book once high school is behind you, what's the difference between you and the billion souls around the world who couldn't read that book even if they did pick it up? No difference at all.
  45. The question is, though, are you developing yourself? Are you building your dream, or only your boss's?
  46. In the course of my businesses I'm often approached by people wanting to know the secret to success, the magic formula. "What's the one thing I can do," they'll say, "to guarantee my success?" My answer is always the same. "Be here, actively immersed in the process, one year from now."
  47. Let's say you were able to match an Apollo rocket's degree of accuracy in the pursuit of your own goals: that would mean you'd be perfectly on target and on course no more than ten days in any given year. The next time you're giving yourself a hard time because you feel like you've gotten off track, think about the Apollo program, and give yourself a break.
  48. You, through the power of your own thoughts, are the most influential person in your life. Which means there is nobody more effective at undermining your success -- and nobody more effective at supporting your success.
  49. The principle aim in self-investment is to train how you think and what you think.
  50. The wisest investment you can make is to invest in your own continuous learning and development.
  51. Find someone else who already achieved mastery in the area you're looking at, and model your behavior based on their experience.
  52. The quickest and surest path to raising the quality of your life is to start handing out with people who have been there and done that.
  53. You can define a society by the heroes it admires. You can also define a person by the heroes he or she aspires to emulate.
  54. Become acutely aware of who you are modeling.
  55. We are all either building our own dreams or building somebody else's. To put a sharper point on it, we're either building on our dreams -- or building our nightmares.
  56. Longevity experts are now telling us that keeping a positive outlook is just as critical a factor to health and long life as diet and exercise!
  57. The best thing I can do to serve the world around me is to keep myself in a state where I can best contribute -- and I can't do that if I'm being dragged down by an environment of cynicism and self-pitying complaint. I want to spend my time with people who have an infectiously positive attitude, who bring energy and vitality to the table and who brighten the room.
  58. Casual relationships deserve casual time -- not quality time.
  59. It's far more effective to take one business-building action every day for a week, than to take seven, or ten, or even two dozen all at once and then take the rest of the week off. People who do the first, week in and week out, build a successful business; people who do the second, don't -- even if they actually take a greater number of those business-building actions than the first group.
  60. Each and every incomplete thing in your life or work exerts a draining force on you, sucking the energy of accomplishment and success out of you as surely as a vampire stealing your blood.
  61. Give fifteen minutes to completing something every day.
  62. Here's a powerful exercise: Instead of writing down what you're going to do (chances are you've been doing that your whole adult life anyway, and it doesn't make you any better at doing them), write down at the end of the day what you did do that day. What actions did you take today that made you successful? Did you read ten pages of a good book? Did you eat healthy food and get some good exercise? Did you engage in positive associations? Did you do the things you need to do to be successful in your business? Did you tell somebody, "I appreciate you?"
  63. It's tough to get rid of the habit you don't want by facing it head on. The way to accomplish it is to replace the unwanted habit with another habit that you do want.
  64. According to Woody Allen, 80% of success is showing up. That's a philosophy I subscribe to wholeheartedly -- but I would add two words: 80% of success is showing up every day.
  65. If you will commit to showing up consistently, every day, no matter what, then you have already won well more than half the battle. The rest is up to skill, knowledge, drive, and execution.
  66. People who consistently practice seeing opportunities instead of problems, who focus on the best in a situation rather than the worst, who notice other people's better qualities and look past their weaker ones, who see the glass as at least half-full in every circumstance, are happier, more creative, earn more money, have more friendships, have better immune response, have less heart disease and strokes, have better and longer-lasting marriages, live longer, and are more successful in their careers.
  67. Attitude creates actions create results create destiny.
  68. Of all the factors possibly influencing health, vitality, and longevity, [Dan] Buettner and his team compiled a list of nine. The people:
    1. Live an active life.
    2. Cultivate purpose and a reason to wake up every morning.
    3. Take time to de-stress.
    4. Stop eating when they are 80% full.
    5. Eat a diet emphasizing vegetables, especially beans.
    6. Have moderate alcohol intake (especially dark red wine.)
    7. Play an active role in a faith-based community.
    8. Place a strong emphasis on family.
    9. Are part of a like-minded social circles with similar habits.
  69. Showing up is essential. Showing up consistently is powerful. Showing up consistently with a positive outlook is even more powerful. But doing all that for a just doing it for a week.
  70. No matter what you're trying to accomplish, you need to ask yourself, am I willing to put in 10,000 hours or more to get what I want?
  71. Anything worth having is worth paying that price for.
  72. There aren't many millionaires who bowl over 100. Why not? Because they left the bowling league behind to build their fortunes.
  73. Whatever price you pay, there's a bigger price to pay for not doing it than the price for doing it. The price of neglect is much worse than the price of discipline. In fact, no matter what price you pay for success, the price for failure is brutal by comparison. It may take five years and 10,000 hours to put your success on track, but it takes a lifetime to fail.
  74. The aspect of integrity that is most applicable to the slight edge is this: what you do when no one is watching.
  75. Here are seven powerful, positive slight edge habits: 
    1. Show up: be the frog who jumps off the lily pad.
    2. Show up consistently: keep showing up when others fade out.
    3. Cultivate a positive outlook: see the glass as overflowing.
    4. Be committed for the long haul: remember the 10,000-hour rule.
    5. Cultivate a burning a desire backed by faith: not hoping or wishing -- knowing.
    6. Be willing to pay the price: sometimes you have to quit the softball team.
    7. Practice slight edge integrity: do the things you've committed to doing, even when no one else is watching.
  76. For a goal to come true: You must make it specific, give it a deadline, and write it down. You must look at it every day. You must have a plan to start with.
  77. Someday...the day that never comes.
  78. The point is not to come up with the brilliant blueprint that is guaranteed to take you all the way to the finish line. The point is simply to come up with a plan that will get you out of the starting gate.
  79. You have to start with a plan, but the plan you start with will not be the plan that gets you there.
  80. If you start with a plan, and you practice those simply daily disciplines, then one plan leads to the next plan, which leads to the next plan, which leads to the next.
  81. What one simple, single, easy-to-do activity can you do, day in and day out, that will have the greatest impact on your health, your happiness, your relationships, your personal development, your finances, your career, and your impact on the world?
  82. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I don't know about that, but I do know this: it is the way to his destiny. That is perhaps your most important choice, day by day and hour by hour: whether to let your eating and physical activity build your fondest dreams -- or dig your grave.
  83. Your happiness is effected by:
    1. Your outlook, that is, how you choose to view the events and circumstances of your everyday life.
    2. Specific actions with positive impact -- things like writing down three things you're grateful for, or sending appreciative emails, doing random acts of kindness, practicing forgiveness, meditating, and exercising.
    3. Where you put your time and energy, and especially investing more time into important relationships and personally meaningful pursuits.
  84. Your income will never long exceed your own level of personal development.
  85. James Allen put it this way: You will become as small as your controlling desire, or as great as your dominant aspiration.
  86. What kind of goal would you set for one hundred years from now? What kind of impact can you imagine yourself having on the world that will last long after your own life has run its course? What will people remember you for after you have come and gone? What do I want my life to mean?
  87. Abraham Lincoln spoke about taking twice as long to sharpen the axe as to hack at the tree. In your life, you are the axe; the slight edge is how your sharpen it. Sharpen yourself and pursue your path through those simple, small, easy disciplines, and compounded over time, they will take you to the top.
  88. Do one simple daily discipline in each of these seven key areas of your life -- your health, your happiness, your relationships, your personal development, your finances, your career, and your impact -- that forwards your success in each of those areas.
  89. Make a habit of doing some sort of daily review of these slight edge activities, either through keeping a journal, a list, working with a slight edge buddy, a coach, or some other regular, consistent means.
  90. Spend high-quality time with men and women who have achieved goals and dreams similar to yours; in other words, model successful mentors, teachers, and allies, and do it daily, weekly and monthly...