The Slight Edge Quotes by Jeff Olson

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In his book The Slight Edge, motivational speaker Jeff Olson argues that success and failure are both a result of the “slight edge.” The slight edge is the idea that success is built over time with small disciplines executed on a consistent basis.

Here is a selection of The Slight Edge quotes with explanations.

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success

In The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson teaches that success is built over time by committing to simple, small, daily disciplines. 

The following The Slight Edge quotes highlight some of his key ideas.

“Trying to get rid of an unwanted habit is a bit like trying not to think about an elephant (the more you try not to think about it, the more you think about it). That’s because what you focus on, grows. Which is why people who put a lot of energy into focusing on what they don’t want, by talking about it, thinking about it, complaining about it, or fretting about it, usually get precisely that unwanted thing. 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. And creating new and better habits, ones that empower and serve you, is something you know how to do. You do it the same way you built any habit you have: one step at a time. Baby steps. The slight edge.”

Science shows you can only change a habit by replacing it with a new one. Complicating things, according to research, we’re not consciously aware of at least 40% of our habits. Therefore, to change a harmful habit, you have to dismantle the subconscious mechanisms fueling that habit and plant new, more productive wiring in your brain.

Olson notes that the first step to building habits of success is to change your bad habits. You can do this by building what’s called an “if-then” plan, where you consciously train your mind to respond in a specific way to a specific situation. 

To implement an if-then plan, use the following process:

  • Write down which habit you want to change and how changing this habit will improve your life.
  • Write down the impact this habit has had on your life so far. How has it been hurtful? 
  • Write down your commitment to changing the habit and what the consequences will be if you don’t change the habit.
  • Create your “if-then” plan for transforming the habit. Write down what action you’ll take when you feel compelled to do your habit the old way. 

“There are two kinds of habits: those that serve you, and those that don’t.”

The results of your habits give you insight into whether they are driving you towards or away from your desired goal. You know you have good habits when you get the results you want, and you know you have bad habits when you don’t get the results you want.

For example, let’s say your goal is to save a certain amount of money, and one of your habits is to save $35 each week from your paycheck, but another habit is to spend $5 on coffee each day. After a few weeks, you notice that you’re not losing money, but your savings are not increasing either. This tells you that your habit of spending $5 on coffee every day is canceling out your habit of saving $35 each week, which means these habits are bad for your goals. In this case, you could change your savings habit by saving more each week so you can keep the daily coffee habit, or you could stop buying coffee. 

“Showing up is essential. Showing up consistently is powerful. Showing up consistently with a positive outlook is even more powerful.”

Big, ambitious goals require consistent effort to become reality. In other words, they require that you consistently show up to contribute towards them. For example, if you want to become a psychologist, you have to apply for school and consistently show up to class. Consistently showing up is the first step to achieving your goal, as no progress can occur without it. After all, you can’t go on a journey if you don’t show up to the train station.

The Slight Edge Quotes by Jeff Olson

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Slight Edge summary:

  • Why some people fail and some succeed despite having the same tools
  • How small practices, executed consistently over time, will give you an edge
  • How you're getting in the way of your own growth by neglecting simple things

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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