Fractured Atlas Book Club: The Slight Edge
I confess to being somewhat mystified by the personal development aisle in the bookstore. Self-help I understand because boy do I need a lot of it. But there are always a couple of shelves worth of books that never quite made a lot of sense to me. I’m talking about books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People or The Power of Positive Thinking.
Fortunately, one of our awesome members recently recommended a book called The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson, a book that has clarified the power and potential of personal development reading for me, and one that I wholeheartedly endorse for you today.
Most of the books that we’ve reviewed on our blog have historically been of the “how-to” variety. How to write a mission statement, how to get your shit together, how to run a crowdfunding campaign. The Slight Edge is not really a “how-to.” I think of it more as a “why-to.” And this isn’t just about your art or your business. It’s about your LIFE.
Among many other career achievements, Jeff Olson was the founder of TPN — The People’s Network, which was one of the largest personal-development training organizations in the United States. He saw that all of the how-to books or CDs or seminars in the world were not going to have lasting impact on a person without that person tapping into why the steps to success and a disciplined approach to improvement were so important.
What this book expounds upon is the way the principle of compound interest impacts your personal and professional life. A phrase that Olson keeps coming back to is “easy to do, easy not to do” to describe the dozens of little actions that we might take, or not, over the course of a given day. The accumulation of these little actions or non-actions accrues in value (interest, in both a metaphorical and a real-world way), and ultimately becomes the output of your life — both the failures and the successes.
Should I wake up early and go to the gym this morning? Easy to do, easy not to do. But over time, a decision like this makes a big impact on my health.
Should I spend the time to write those thank-you notes for the birthday gifts that I received? Easy to do, easy not to do. But over time, a decision like this makes a big impact on whether or not people think that I’m an asshole.
Olson believes that we can chart the different areas of our lives (health, relationships, finance, etc.) on one of two curves. Either you are on an upward curve as a result of the positive choices you make day-in, day-out (and the negative choices that you avoid). Or you’re on a downward curve.
Keeping “easy to do, easy not to do” as a mantra has already been of great help to me as far as keeping me discipline. I hear it as a Jiminy Cricket voice in the back of my head when I’m faced with the little choices every day. Should I watch TV or work on my project? Should I give my mom a call or should I keep playing Candy Crush on my phone? Should I make dinner or should I order takeout?
Fortunately, Olson provides a whole host of examples of small, easy to do, easy not to do, choices that you can make every day. And the choice that I look most forward to is taking the time to read 10 pages of an empowering book every day. First up on my list, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Thanks to The Slight Edge, I hope I understand how to read books like this now and allow them to give value to my life.
I’m also rereading The Chronicles of Narnia, thanks for asking. Easy to do, easy not to do.
Have you encountered any excellent books that helped you achieve success? No reason to keep secrets among friends! Please email, tweet or Facebook us with the details so that we can share it on our blog.
About Nathan Zebedeo
Nathan Zebedeo is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2011, Nathan made the leap from card-carrying member of Fractured Atlas to an associate on our programs team, which he now co-manages. Prior to joining Fractured Atlas, Nathan helped produce celebrity author events at Barnes & Noble’s flagship Union Square location. Outside of work, Nathan directs the occasional play. He enjoys board games, learning languages, and travel.