This blog post is part of a series from the tremendous book The Slight Edge.
It’s amazing.   To see my introduction, click here.


The Slight Edge II

Do the Thing, and You Shall have the Power

What makes the top 1% or top 5% the top?   There is only one difference: The Slight Edge.  The 5 percent all understand the power of the slight edge and how it is working – for or against them.

Why are the rules so often over-looked?   Hell, they are downright mundane.

Reason #1: They’re Easy to Do.

This is a lesson learned from Jim Rohn: The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But there are also just as easy not to do.

Fundamentally, we all pretty much take the same actions every day. We eat, sleep, think, feel, talk, and listen. We have relationships and friendships. We have twenty-four hours a day, 168 hours a week, and we each fill these hours one way or the other – with a sequence of mundane little actions and tasks.

Gold medal marathon runners eat and sleep. So do people who are thirty pounds overweight.

The difference that will make all the difference between success and failure – between achieving the quality of life you want and settling for less than you desire and deserve – lies not in whether you take those actions or not (because we all do), but 100 percent in which of those mundane actions you choose to do.

Reason #2: The Results Are Invisible

The things that create success in the long run don’t look like they’re having any impact at all in the short run.   The results are too far in the future. They’re invisible.

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. “Progressive” means success is a process, not a destination. It’s something you experience gradually, over time. Failure is just as gradual.

In fact, the difference between success and failure is so subtle, you can’t even see it or recognize it during the process. When you get to the point where everyone else can see your results, tell you what good choices you’ve made, notice your good fortune, slap you on the back and tell you how lucky you are, the critical slight edge choices you made are ancient history.

Two Life Paths

Where you end up in life isn’t about whether you are good or a bad person.  Or whether or not you are deserving, or your karma, or your circumstances. It’s dictated by the choices you make—especially the little ones. I know it doesn’t seem like it. It seems like you’re just choosing how to spend the next hour, not the next forty years. But you ARE choosing how you’ll spend the next forty years.

The reason this is hard to see is that it looks like your actions move in a simple straight line.  Only you don’t. You end up in different places. Because your actions don’t move in a straight line. They curve.

The truth is, everything is curved. You are on a journey called your life path, and that path, it is always, every moment of every day, curving either upward or downward.

There are no straight lines; everything curves. If you’re not increasing, you’re decreasing.

Those two slight edge curves, the success curve and the failure curve, typically run parallel to each other for a long time. The two paths may be so close together that it’s almost impossible for most people even to see the distinction between them, until momentum has been built.

If you understand and live the law of compound interest, and engage in the right practices, your life will be the top half of the graph. If you don’t understand and live by the law of compound interest, your life will look like the lower half of the graph. Life is a curved construction; time is its builder, and choice its master architect.

The bad news is, all those 95 percenters are going to be yanking on you, sitting on you, naysaying and doomsaying on you, and doing their level best to pull you back down. Why? Because if you succeed, it reinforces the fact that they are not where they want to be.

The predominant state of mind displayed by those people on the failure curve is blame. The predominant state of mind displayed by those people on the success curve is responsibility.      People on the success curve live a life of responsibility.  They take full responsibility for     who they are, where they are and everything that happens to them.

Taking responsibility liberates

The people living on the top, those who take responsibility, live a life that is in some ways uncomfortable. Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do, and that often means living outside the limits of one’s comfort zone.

This means changing your thinking about the comfort zone. It’s a change in philosophy. It means embracing living uncomfortably in order to attain a life that is genuinely comfortable—not deceptively comfortable.

Do the thing, and you shall have the power.

Reason #3: They Seem Insignificant: 
The difference between success and failure is so subtle, so mundane, that most people miss it.

We quickly develop something we called The Ten Core Commitments, which was a list of basic actions people could take to move their business forward. Things that were in a word, mundane.

Willpower was vastly overrated. (A Friend of mine used to say that people on diets who complain that they lack will-power are usually suffering more from a lack of won’t power.)  In most of us there is a natural tendency to resist an applied force—even when it’s applied by ourselves. Will power will take you only so far before you feel yourself rebelling.

If you want to keep yourself on the upward path, the path of the building, growing, improving – positively compounding effect of the slight edge, rather than the deteriorating, disintegrating, draining, negatively compounding effect of the slight edge – then there’s something you need.

That force is time.  The universe around you supplies the rest of the equation. And the force it uses to do that time.

Consistently repeated daily actions + time = Unconquerable results.

There is a natural progression in life: you plant, then you cultivate, and finally you harvest.  In today’s world, everyone wants to go directly from plant to harvest.   There’s a reason movies and television condense those lengthy transformations, the kind that take months or years in real life, into thirty-second montages set to great music. Because it’s boring.

But it Works!

The slight edge is boring, There, I said it.  The challenge is that making the right choices is not dramatic.      And that’s the big challenge of it: no immediate feedback.

But it Works!

No matter what you have done in your life up until today, no matter where you are and how far down you may have slid on the failure curve, you can start fresh, building a positive pattern of success, at any time.     Including right now. But you need to have faith in the process, because you won’t see it happening at first.

One reason the slight edge is so widely ignored, unnoticed, and undervalued is that our culture tends to worship the idea of the “big break.”  The truth of breakthroughs and lucky breaks is that, yes, they do happen—but they don’t happen out of thin air.

Our entire health crisis is nothing but one set of little decisions, made daily and compounded daily, winning out another set of little decisions, made daily and compounded daily.

Have you ever noticed that when you read stories about lottery winners, they are hardly ever bank presidents, successful entrepreneurs, or corporate executives?

Successful people have already grasped the truth that lottery players have not: success is not a random accident. Life is not a lottery.

Do the thing, and you shall have the power.

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