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My takeaway

Improvement lies in the small everyday actions you do repeatedly. Your philosophy affects what you do and how you think about simple everyday disciplines—those disciplines in turn defines who you are. Understand that time is your friend and your everyday actions will compound over time.

My notes

These are my informal notes from The Slight Edge. It contains a mix of key highlights as well as my own thoughts and lessons.

  • The same activities that take us from failure to survival would also take us from survival to success—if we would just keep doing them.
  • How to do it is not the issue. If “how to do it” were the answer, it’d be done. It’s how you do the “hows” that’s most important.
  • The answer is only the answer—it isn’t actually doing the thing. It isn’t applying the answer, living the answer. It’s only information.
  • The secret ingredient is your philosophy.
  • If you don’t change how you think about these simple everyday things, then no amount of how-to’s will get you anywhere or give you any true solutions. Because it’s not the hows that do it, it’s how you do the hows.
  • Today, you’re excited about getting fit. You feel like doing your twenty minutes on the treadmill. Great! But what if tomorrow you just don’t feel like doing it? To find the path to success, you have to back up one more step. It’s the understanding behind the attitudes that are behind the actions.
  • Your philosophy is what you know, how you hold it, and how it affects what you do. How you think about simple, everyday things.
  • A positive philosophy turns into a positive attitude, which turns into positive actions, which turns into positive results, which turns into a positive lifestyle. A positive life.
  • 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?”
  • There is a natural progression to everything in life: plant, cultivate, harvest.
  • No matter how good the information is, it won’t do you any good unless you have the right catalyst that will let you apply it effectively.
  • It’s never too late to start. It’s always too late to wait.
  • Simple productive actions, repeated consistently over time. Simple errors in judgment, repeated consistently over time. The choice is that simple.
  • Most people don’t stick with the simple daily disciplines it takes to get where they want to go, because they don’t know how to look ahead far enough along the curve to see the results they are creating.
  • The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But they’re also just as easy not to do.
  • The things that create success in the long run don’t look like they’re having any impact at all in the short run.
  • If you ate a cheeseburger and immediately suffered a near-fatal heart attack, would you ever go near a cheeseburger again? It may take twenty or thirty years, but when you add up the compounded interest on all that high-fat, artery-clogging dietary mayhem, eventually your poor overworked heart just quits, stops dead.
  • You know what you need to do to stay healthy and feel fit and live a long life. Get your heart rate up, a little over normal, for twenty minutes, three times a week. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. And it’s easy to do.
  • Here’s a slight edge action guaranteed to change your life: read just ten pages of a good book, a book aimed at improving your life, every day. If you read ten pages of a good book today, will your life change? Of course not. If you don’t read ten pages of a good book today, will your life fall apart? Obviously not.
  • When you make the right choice, you don’t see the results, at least not today. And that is a problem in our push-button, mouse-click, 24-hour-news world. We expect to see results, and we expect to see them now.
  • Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. “Progressive” means success is a process, not a destination.
  • Most people live out their entire lives without ever grasping how the slight edge is working in their lives because it just seems like those little things don’t really matter.
  • What you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Successful people are those who understand that the little choices they make matter, and because of that they choose to do things that seem to make no difference at all in the act of doing them, and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.
  • If you want to direct your life on a path of continual positive change, then you need to tap into the most powerful force for change in the universe. Fortunately for you, that force is always with you, ready to lend a hand if you just ask. That force is time.
  • The secret of time is simply this: time is the force that magnifies those little, almost imperceptible, seemingly insignificant things you do every day into something titanic and unstoppable.
  • In a world filled with instant coffee, instant breakfast, instant credit, instant shopping, instant information, and 24/7 news, we have come dangerously close to losing touch with reality and believing we have access to instant life.
  • The slight edge can carve the Grand Canyon. It can do anything. But you have to give it enough time for the power of time to kick in.
  • If you want to understand and apply the slight edge to create the life of your dreams, you can’t make your everyday choices based on the evidence of your eyes. You need to make them based on what you know. You have to see through the eyes of time.
  • The important point is to start on the path and to remember that no matter what has gone on before, you can begin fresh and new anytime you choose.
  • 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.” Quantum leaps do happen, but only as the end result of a lengthy, gradual buildup of consistently applied effort.
  • Each morning, write down three things you’re grateful for. Not the same three every day; find three new things to write about. That trains your brain to search your circumstances and hunt for the positive.
  • Journal for two minutes a day about one positive experience you’ve had over the past twenty-four hours. Write down every detail you can remember; this causes your brain to literally reexperience the experience, which doubles its positive impact.
  • A little moderate exercise, a brisk one-mile walk, fifteen minutes on a tread-mill. Get your heart rate up slightly, no big deal.
  • The best stories always repeat themselves for each new generation.
  • When you don’t take responsibility, when you blame others, circumstances, fate, or chance, you give away your power.
  • Review the past, but only for the purpose of making a better plan. The future is a far better tool than the past.
  • The pursuit of any aim, goal, or dream—personal, professional, spiritual, in any area—is a slight edge journey of continuous improvement, learning, and refinement.
  • Continuous, lifelong learning is the material from which you continually build your philosophy and your understanding of how it plays out in real-life situations and circumstances.
  • Invest in yourself. Sharpen your axe. Read just one chapter of an information-rich, inspiring book every day. Listen to fifteen minutes of a life-transforming audio. Take a course or seminar every few weeks or months.
  • What you think, multiplied by action plus time, will create what you get.
  • The purpose of investing in yourself is not to accumulate skills or fluency in specific areas of knowledge. While those things are valuable, they are not the principal aim. The principal aim in self-investment is to train how you think and what you think.
  • 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. Make a habit of doing a daily review of these daily disciplines.
  • Every day, in every moment, you get to exercise choices that will determine whether or not you will become a great person, living a great life. Greatness is always in the moment of the decision.