Summary of The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

  • Post category:Summaries
  • Post last modified:September 18, 2023

Summary: 7 min

Book reading time: 3h43

Score: 2/10

Book published in: 2005

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  • Success is built one small step at a time.

Table of Contents

What The Slight Edge Is About

The Slight Edge is a book written by Jeff Olson. It’s a partly autobiographical self-development book about progress in life. It taught me that great things happen one small step at a time. When you practice something a little bit daily, you gain a huge advantage over people that practice once in a while.

This book is one of the cringiest books of all time.

I read it after my friend, who recommended me other cringe books, told me to read it.

I guess the real lesson here is that I need to stop taking recommendations from this friend.

The book is awfully abstract, deadly boring, and messy. It mixes up different self-help topics without ever fully going into any of them.

One wonders if the author was actually confident writing it since for the 10-year edition (the one I read), he added some personal stories of people that read the first edition and “hAd tHeIr LivEs cHaNgEd”.

It felt awful. I was under the impression of being sold on something after I had bought it.

The slight edge is one of these books whose core message can be summarized in two sentences, but that needlessly feels the need to drag on and on, without ever giving tangible advice to the reader.

And there is worse. While some books have the decency to back up their claims with data, this one “promises”.

“I promise that by applying the slight edge, your life will change”.

Yes. The author wrote that.

Maybe it’s no wonder why he kept on talking about himself ad nauseam (until the moment he invited the whole family, but no spoilers!!).

Boring, dull, and empty, don’t read this book.

In fact, don’t even read this summary.

Go read Atomic Habits instead.


Do not buy the book here!!!

Summary of the Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson

Chapter 1: The Beach Bum and the Millionaire

The author was a bad student who only enjoyed girls and parties.

Then one day he had enough and became successful, then failed again.

Upon inspection, he realized what went wrong.

Every time he touched bottom, he worked to get out of it.

Then as soon as he experienced a bit of success, he rested and went back down. Then worked again to rise. Then went back down. Etc.

image 3
We rise when we touch the bottom, then chill and go back down. Made by me in Powerpoint.

The author figured out that if we could rise from the bottom to the average, it meant we knew how to rise in the first place.

All we needed was to repeat the actions that got us out of the failure zone, until we reached the desired success.

And these things are simple. They are tiny, positive habits that we do to make our lives much better in the long term.

Eg: exercise, reading, saving money.

These small simple things, are the slight edge.

Chapter 2: The First Ingredient

People don’t apply the information they are given.

They find out an excuse for why it won’t work for them.

This is because they merely want to be successful, and this is not enough.

You also need to develop your own philosophy, which is your internal way of thinking.

Most people are stuck because they think they don’t know how to do something.

This is wrong.

They’re stuck because they’re not taking action to find out how to do something.

-> it’s not about the action, but the attitude and beliefs that drive the action.

By the same token, you can’t rely on motivation to move forward.

You should keep on moving forward, whether there is motivation or not.

Success is merely doing what you should do, even if you don’t want to.

Everyone is looking for an event to happen so their lives change.

But lives don’t change like that. Lives change slowly, gradually, after long and hard processes.

Chapter 3: The Choice

This chapter was written to tell you that to become rich, you should save $100 USD a month for 150 years, hope that the stock market doesn’t crash, and that inflation is controlled.

That you have the choice between spending $100 on ice cream or saving them for later.

Chapter 4: Master the Mundane

The only interesting piece of info was when the author said people become obese when they spend too much money on food instead of saving it.

Fat is money. Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Chapter 5: Slow Down to Go Fast

Time is the single biggest force in the universe. If you dedicate time to do something, you will make it no matter what happens.

Everything is a process, nothing big is built in a day.

Chapter 6: Don’t Fall for the Quantum Leap

The Quantum Leap is the idea that after working out for two weeks, you’ll look like Schwarzenegger.

Obviously, it’s wrong, since everything of value is acquired after a process, not an event.

Most people hope “one day” for their lucky break, but there is no such thing as a breakthrough in real life.

Chapter 7: The Secret of Happiness

Happiness is created by simple easy things we do every day. If you don’t do them, it leads to unhappiness.

Happiness leads to success – not the other way around.

Happiness is a choice, in the sense that you are happy when you take a positive outlook on life.

Philosophy of life -> right attitude -> right actions.

Here are the actions to become happy.

  • Write down three things you are grateful for each morning
  • Write down a positive experience you have had
  • Meditate every day
  • Be nice to someone at least once a day
  • Exercise at least 15 minutes once a day

Other things you may be interested in:

  • Spend more time with friends
  • Enjoy the moment
  • Have a positive outlook
  • Be forgiving
  • Engage in meaningful activities (whatever that means)

Chapter 8: The Ripple Effect

In this chapter, the author’s daughter wrote an advertisement for the book the reader already bought, explaining how big of an impact the slight edge had on her.

She explains that the more success you have, the more success you will have, and that there is a price to pay for that: responsibility.

Then comes the ripple effect. The ripple effect is the idea that if you have a positive impact on someone, that person will have a positive impact on someone else, etc.

The daughter then decides to include her mother in the book, which served the same gibberish.

Chapter 9: But You Have to Start with a Penny

Start small, be consistent, and eventually, you’ll make it big.

This is because of compound interest.

Compound interest multiplies your money by itself.

When you save a penny, you expose yourself to having many more (over time).

Part II: Living the Slight Edge

Chapter 10: Two Life Paths

You have the choice between two paths: taking action daily for what you want, or not.

Either way, one will lead to a life full of success, while the other, to a life full of failure.

To live in the slight edge, you need to take responsibility and stop blaming other people.

Stop focusing on the past and focus on the future, so that you are pulled forward.

Chapter 11: Mastering the Slight Edge

You don’t master something overnight.

It takes time and daily repeated small steps.

When you want something you don’t have yet (losing weight, making more money) you have two solutions.

You whether work to reach it, or you abandon your goal entirely.

Most people abandon.

Chapter 12: Invest in Yourself

Investing in yourself and learning new skills and knowledge is the best investment you can make to become better.

When we learn, we both learn consciously and subconsciously.

You learn by doing and by reading (theory and practice).

Chapter 13: Learn from Mentors

Find a mentor that will teach you what you want to learn.

Hang out with people that have a positive outlook on your life.

Chapter 14: Use Your Slight Edge Allies

These are:

  • Momentum: there is an optimal speed of growth. Don’t develop too far, as you’ll come crashing down. And don’t go too slow either.
  • Completion: complete small milestones on the road to big goals
  • Reflection
  • Celebration

Chapter 15: Cultivate Slight Edge Habits

There are two types of habits.

Those that bring you positivity in your life, and those that don’t.

Here’s a list:

  1. Show up
  2. Be consistent
  3. Be positive
  4. Be committed for the long haul
  5. Cultivate a burning desire faith-based
  6. Be willing to pay the price: when you spend time improving, you are not spending time drinking with friends.
  7. Practice Slight Edge Integrity: do what you said you would do.

Chapter 16: Three Steps to Your Dreams

You should write your dreams and look at them everyday, and work on them everyday.

Then you should come up with a step-by-step plan to make them work. Your plan won’t work how you think it will, and it’s ok, as long as you reach your goals.

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