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Tim Mandzyuk 1

In the book The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and

Happiness, successful entrepreneur, Jeff Olson describes the steps he deems necessary to

success. He begins by describing his own life and how he went from having almost nothing to

being more successful and happy than he has ever been before. He tells us simple daily

disciplines are in a nutshell, the slight edge (10). The "slight edge" is defined as a small

advantage in life over other people around you including your former self. To gain this "slight

edge" one has to perform "daily disciplines," meaning they perform a minor task every day,

whether that task be one hour of homework, reading part of a book, etc. Olson goes on to explain

that without a good philosophy, our actions and attitude will lead to results unwanted (20). Our

journey toward success begins with a penny and grows to over ten million (128). Olson points

out the amount of time it will take to reach success and for it to even show will take more than a

few weeks, but it is a worthwhile wait and will pay off. He also demonstrates that without

happiness the road to our goals is a very difficult one to travel. The choices we make pay into a

ripple effect and affect everybody around us. Olson illustrates how the choice of whether we

want to be on a path that leads to our success or on a path that leads to failure are solely in our

hands. After reading about Olsons views on how to become successful and seeing the positive

results it has proven for himself and others, I have decided to give his philosophy a try. I have

made a goal for myself incorporating what Olson teaches in his book to see if the slight edge

really works.

The goal that I have made for myself is a SMART goal which is to use my phone for less

than an hour every day. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable,

realistic, and timely, so when I make a goal it will apply to each one of these words. First off, my

goal is specific to where I know what I am doing and I have given a specific allotted time for
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myself to use my phone, which is one hour every day. My goal is also measurable where I am

able to measure how long I use my phone every day. The way I will do this is by mentally noting

when I use my phone. For example, say I have already used my phone for fifteen minutes from

earlier in the day and I just used it for another five minutes, then I will keep in mind that I have

used up twenty minutes of my one hour and have forty minutes of phone usage for the rest of the

day. Furthermore, my goal is achievable. I know I can go a day with using my phone for only an

hour because I use to not have a phone and was fine then, so I definitely can go a day with only

one hour now. Plus, I have all the materials I need to achieve my goal. My goal is realistic

because I dont need my phone to go about my day, I simply choose to use it for entertainment

purposes. Last but not least, my goal is timely because it applies to me now! I find myself going

to bed late because I leave off my homework until night while I use my phone during the day, but

this way if I use my phone for less than an hour every day, I will be able to get my homework

done quicker and get to bed on time. I hope this will eventually make me a more productive

person and help me towards passing all my classes with great grades.

After beginning my goal of using my phone for less than one hour every day and

applying Olson's principles to it, I have seen some minor results. My daily discipline has just

only begun and so far the biggest difference is that I am getting to bed earlier. Although I have

only been doing this for a short time, I already notice myself feeling more energized in class

towards the end of the week, and thats when Im usually falling asleep due to me doing

homework late at night the day before. I feel like Im waiting for it to play out so quickly. Olson

describes this as a quantum leap, but an actual quantum leap is something that finally happens

after a lengthy accumulation of a slight-edge effort (86). I need to have been using my phone

seldom for a very long time to see any result play out and notice a change. BJ Fogg, a Stanford
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professor who studies behavior, furthermore helps me understand this concept in a YouTube

video titled Forget Big Change, Start with a Tiny Habit: BJ Fogg at TEDxFremont, where he

talks about how in order for me to experience long term change, I need to form a tiny habit and

not rely on motivation. He explains how motivation is a long term losing strategy which

helps me more so understand how doing a small daily discipline will help lead me to success.

Foggs teaching underlines that my motivation will not be enough to help me reach my wanted

future goals. For me to reach my own success I will need to create what Fogg calls a tiny habit

and what Olson calls a daily discipline".

It seems so easy to be able to reach success, based on Olsons book, yet only five

percent reach the level of fulfillment they hope for (62). Why is it that so few are able to

reach their goals? I think the answer to that comes in many forms beginning with the biggest one,

which is laziness. People want to do something big with their lives, but that would mean putting

in work. Work is hard. It is much easier to stay home and watch television; yet, it is not that hard

to make ourselves go to work and become successful people. It is easy to do, but also easy not to

do (38). We rely on motivation when starting to make a change towards success, which Fogg

teaches us is a losing strategy, and it starts to become harder and harder to follow success and

easier and easier to forget about the little things. We need to remember to continue not rely on

motivation and stick to a "daily discipline" to reach an accomplishment.

I think that another large contributing factor to such a large number of people not

reaching their goals is because along our journey we experience failures, leading to

discouragement and abandoning our dreams. On the contrary, Olson teaches us that a part of

reaching success is experiencing failures. When we reach an obstacle that seems too challenging

to get over, the much easier choice is to turn around and go back to where we once were. People
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are afraid of failure when in reality the formula for success is quite simple: double your rate of

failure (21). Failure is a clue that we are on the path to success. How else are we supposed to

learn if not from our mistakes? Once we are able to embrace the idea that our path to a goal

will be off-course most of the time then we will be able to learn that the only way to reach a

goal is through constant and continuous course correction (190). Meaning, each time we

stumble along failure on our road to success, we need to correct ourselves onto success again and

embrace failure as a part of the process.

Olson also mentions how it all begins with a penny (128). What he means by this is that

we have to start from the little things to build up to big results. He uses Mark Zuckerberg as an

example of beginning with a penny. He talks about how "the billion-dollar phenomenon

Facebook didn't come out of nowhere," it all started from a small idea that grew to be bigger than

one could have thought about (128). My goal is something small, but hopefully it will grow

overtime to help me reach larger goals in my life such as a good future career and things for my

benefit. If I continue to perform my "small daily discipline" it will compound and eventually

help bring about successful results.

Olson brings up a few good points in his book which makes it easier for me to believe his

philosophy and do the things he claims will lead to success without questioning him. One of the

main reasons I believe in his philosophy of the slight edge is due to a very big point: he

applied it to his own life to bring himself up from having nothing, to becoming a very successful,

rich entrepreneur. Ive seen him in his ups and downs as he describes them throughout the book,

and it wasnt until he applied the slight edge to his life that he was able to become as

successful as he is. Also, at the end of every chapter he includes true stories that people have sent

him about how they applied the things he says to their own lives and they share the endless
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amounts of positivity it has brought in to each and every one of their lives. Seeing how such a

small thing can bring about such a large change only inspires me to try it out for myself.

Another big point that encourages me to believe Olson and follow his guidance is that his

philosophy leads to success and happiness, so why not give it a try if the least I could gain from

it are only good things? His ideas tie very closely to those of Foggs, who is also successful like

Olson. I think if two prosperous people are saying the same things about success then it most

likely is true. They both refer to this idea of doing something minor everyday to reach success in

the long term, but they just call it by different names. What Olson talks a lot about is more so of

what we need to do to become successful in a physical perspective; meaning, he talks about

daily disciplines and what they look like, what will happen on your journey to success, how

happiness plays a role in success, etc. Fogg helps fill in gaps from Olsons teaching from a more

mental approach. Since he has a PhD in human behavior, Fogg provides knowledge of what will

work and what will not work more so based on our approach toward success mentally. He tells us

that motivation although a good thing to have when trying to accomplish something, is a short

term strategy and will not help in leading to long term success. He also explains what it takes to

actually make a long term goal work and that includes either changing your environment

physically or mentally, or making a tiny habit for yourself to do every day. For that reason, I am

forming a tiny habit to help make my long term goal of success in the future come true.

After performing a "daily discipline" for two weeks now I can safely say some things

about Olson's "slight edge" philosophy. First of all, it is working for the better of me so far. The

differences I'm experiencing now are simply a more energized me which ultimately benefits me

in more ways than I thought it would. Also, I just feel happier in general but this is probably due

to me getting more sleep. Plus, I have more time on my hands now that I am not spending it on
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my phone. All of these benefits have come from me simply using my phone less every day. I can

confidently say that Olson's philosophy is a great thing that has set me on a path towards success.

I would like to continue this goal for as long as I can and see myself grow through small actions I

make every day. Ive learned that my results will take time to show and I have to be patient for

results. I cant get frustrated with failures but rather embrace them and cannot let myself slack

off or become lazy. All in all, I hope to see good results that continue to come from my goal and

ultimately have this small daily discipline of mine bring me success.


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Works Cited

Fogg, BJ. "Forget big change, start with a tiny habit: BJ Fogg at TEDxFremont." YouTube.

YouTube, 5 Dec. 2012. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.

Olson, Jeff. The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness.

Austin: Greenleaf Book Group, 2013. Print.