Select Page

The Odds are Against You


DID YOU KNOW that only five percent of people succeed and 95 percent of the people fail, no matter what realm of life or work you're looking at. It's true.
Just one out of 20 people will ever achieve their goals in life. That's how the numbers crunch out; it's just the way it is.

The Slight Edge Philosophy

by Jeff Olson

When you were a tiny, little child, you made your
way around the world on your hands and knees
crawling. Everyone around you was walking and one
day you got it into your head to give that a try.

So, little by little, you worked on developing the
skills you needed to walk. You grabbed on to
something above you and pulled yourself upright.
You stood up, holding on to a table or chair or
big stuffed animal. Wobbly and unsure, you let go,
fell down, and tried again and again, until you
stood up all by yourself. Then, you took a step.

The older people you watched took one step after
another: right foot, left foot, right foot, left
…but you managed only one step-and you crashed.

After days of side-stepping around the coffee table,
awkwardly bringing one little foot out from behind
the other while you held on to Mom’s or Dad’s fingers,
you eventually took your first couple of steps…
all alone…all by yourself…and (hopefully) to the
cheers and applause of your family.

Baby steps. One at a time. And you were WALKING!

probably spent more time failing than you did
succeeding. But did you ever have the thought of
quitting? Did you ever tell yourself, “I’m not cut
out for walking-guess I’ll crawl for the rest of
my life?” No, of course you didn’t. So, why do you
do that now?

What’s different today with any goal you want and
desire you have for accomplishing anything? When
did you lose the ability to make a goal, go for it,
and get it? How come you don’t do what you did when
you were one or two years old?

The answer is alarming, yet simple:

Somewhere along the way in your life, you became
unwilling to take baby steps. You lost faith in the
universal truth that the simple little disciplines
done again and again over time would move the
mightiest mountains.

Shakespeare said “to climb steep hills requires
slow pace at first,” but now you put your trust
in achieving breakthroughs…making quantum leaps
…instant this, instant that…hitting the lottery.
You began a habit of settling for less, just because
more was so far out of your reach. You forgot about
the most proven, powerful success philosophy on Earth
- “The Slight Edge.”

forget that moving moment of triumph in the ’94
Olympics when American speed-skater Dan Jansen at
last overcame years of discouragement,
disappointment, and frustration to finally win the
gold medal in the 1000 meters, setting a world
record of one minute, 12.43 seconds?

Do you know by how much of a margin Jansen won?
Do you know what the difference was between the
winning world record gold medal and the virtual
oblivion of second place?

Twenty-nine hundredths of a second! That’s a very
Slight Edge!

No matter where you look, no matter in what area
of accomplishment, life, work, or play-the
difference between winning and losing, between going
down in the record books as first and best…or not
at all-the gap that separates success and failure is
always measured as … THE SLIGHT EDGE.

And the best news of all is that it’s not just the
winning goal that’s THE SLIGHT EDGE. The Slight
Edge is the process itself that all winners use
to achieve their goals.

were offered $1,000,000 (one million dollars)
right now, or a penny a day, doubled each day,
for one month, which would you choose? Unless
you’ve read this illustration before, like most
people, you’ll probably choose the right-now
million. But you’d be making the wrong choice.
One penny, doubled every day for a month adds
up to $10,737,418…and 24cents. Compound interest.
Leverage. Doubling. Geometric growth. It all adds
up-and that’s YOUR SLIGHT EDGE.

With THE SLIGHT EDGE, time is on your side. What
if you gave yourself five years to become twice
the person you are today: to earn twice the income,
have twice the personal relationships and contacts,
make twice the impact on the world, enjoy twice the
quality of life? Could you do it? How would you do
it?! Ask yourself honestly, “If I doubled my efforts
…if I had twice as much time…if I became twice
as smart.. if I worked twice as hard as I do today
…could I really become twice as productive as I
am right now? No, you couldn’t, and you know it.
But wait! There is a way to become two, three,
four, and more times as productive as you are

IF YOU WERE TO IMPROVE just .003 each day-
that’s only 3/10 of one percent, a very Slight
Edge-and you kept that up for the next five
years, here’s what would happen to you:

The first year, you would improve 100 percent
(you would already be twice what you are today
The second, you would improve 200 percent. The
third year, 400 percent. And the fourth, 800
percent. And by the end of year five-by simply
improving 3/10 of one percent each day-you will
have magnified your value, your skills, and the
results you accomplished 1,600 percent. That’s
22 times more than you are today.

Just 3/10 of one percent per day-and that’s NOT
compounded. That’s just adding on 3/10 of one
percent each day. That’s the awesome power of
The Slight Edge. If all of this is so, then why
isn’t everybody using The Slight Edge? We are.
All the time. Everyone. The Slight Edge is always
operating. It never stops. It’s either working FOR
you or AGAINST you. And that’s up to you. It’s your

not to do. Now, I’m defining EASY here as simply
“something you can do.” The Slight Edge philosophy
is based on doing things that are easy-little
disciplines, which, done consistently over time,
add up to the biggest accomplishments. The problem
is that all those things that are easy to do are
just as easy not to do. Why is something easy not
to do? Because if you don’t do it, it won’t kill
you today. But, that simple, seemingly insignificant
error in judgment, compounded over time, will kill
you, destroy you, ruin your chances for success,
and demolish your dreams. You can count on it.

Take, for example, the health issue of fat and
cholesterol in your diet. Would you say that it’s
a good idea to eat at least a pound and a half
of butter each day? How about drinking a quart
of saturated oil? “Hey, my cholesterol’s way down
to 200-got to get it up above 300.” Crazy, right?
Sure it is-but millions and millions of people are
doing it every day. Why? We know what’s good for us:
fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates
like whole grains, unsaturated fats and oils, fish
and chicken instead of beef. So why do we keep
digging our graves with our teeth? It’s easy to
eat well-right? It’s easy not to-right? And when
you eat that hamburger, you won’t die, will you?
No, of course not. But that simple error in judgment
compounded over time will ruin the quality of your
life and eventually take you out of your life

If you ate that hamburger and you had a heart
attack-would you ever eat another one? No way!
Eating a hamburger won’t kill you today, but
compound all those greasy, dead-animal patties
over 10 or 20 years-as many as 5,000 of them!-and
one day your clogged-up, stressed- out, overworked
ol’ heart just quits! It’s not the one hamburger,
it’s the thousands! That one hamburger is just a
simple, little error in judgment. But compounded
over time, it can and will destroy you. It’s easy
to do! It’s easy not to do! Either way, The Slight
Edge is at work and at play. You’ve got to choose
which way to go with The Slight Edge. And here is
what makes doing the right thing such a hard choice
for most people-


DID YOU KNOW that only five percent of people
succeed and 95 percent of the people fail, no
matter what realm of life or work you’re looking
at. It’s true. Just one out of 20 people will ever
achieve their goals in life. That’s how the numbers
crunch out; it’s just the way it is. Back in the
early 1950s, the Hartford Insurance Company did a
survey of 100 brand new college graduates-all
approximately 25 years old. They asked them this

“Will you achieve your financial goals within your
working lives-within 40 years?” Every single one
of them answered, “Yes!” Forty years later, in the
early 1990s, the Hartford went back and checked
out what had happened to all those now-65-years-old
people. Here’s what they found:

One was wealthy, Four were financially secure,
Six were still working, 35 were dead, and 54 were
“dead broke,” having $200 or less left to spend
each month after paying off their bills.

Five out of 100 had become successful. That’s only
one out of 20. Why? What was missing for those 95
others? The answer has to do with GRAVITY-and the
downward pull of life. REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE in
the fourth grade? It was expected that you’d graduate
and go on to fifth grade, wasn’t it? Your teachers,
your parents, and all your classmates expected you
to graduate. The whole system was geared to you moving
from fourth, to fifth, to sixth grade and so on.

But what if nobody cared whether or not you graduated?
What if the entire educational system, our society,
and culture had absolutely no interest or expectation
that kids would ever graduate to fifth grade? Would
you have done it? If the structure were not in place
for children to learn all the fourth grade stuff and
pass the test, graduating and moving up to the new
challenges of fifth grade, only five percent of us
would ever do it! Ask yourself this question: Where
is the expectation and the structure to support me
in being a success in my life and work? The alarming
fact is that outside of our formal system of
education, which most experts believe to be fatally
flawed anyway, there is no expectation and no
structure for your success-none. We get what we
expect-and only five percent of us ever expects to
win and keep on expecting that. Plus, we have no
structure, no system to support us succeeding in
life. Isn’t that heavy? Well, life is heavy. And
it’s heavy because the predominant force in life is
gravity and it’s always pulling us DOWN. It pulls 19
out of 20 people DOWN.

The Slight Edge is a success system ANYONE can use
to break free of the downward pull of life and become
the best you can be. Here’s how you can make it work
a chart you’ve probably seen before:


Your ACTIONS create your RESULTS, which in turn
create the QUALITY OF LIFE you live and enjoy. Simple,
powerful, and true. The problem is, your actions are
not the source of your problem. That’s why diets don’t
work. You see, there’s another side to the equation,
and that’s the place where your actions come from.

Take a look at this:

ATTITUDE > Actions > Results > Quality of Life

Your actions are created by your attitudes-but
attitudes aren’t the heart of the matter, either.
There is one thing more fundamental and essential
…Your Philosophy. Your philosophy is your paradigm
of the way life is, how life works (or doesn’t), and
what’s the best way to live your life. Simply put,
there’s nothing more fundamental than your philosophy.
Frank Lloyd Wright said this:

No stream rises higher than its source. Whatever man
might build could never express or reflect more than
he was… He could record neither more nor less than
he had learned of life when the buildings were built…
His philosophy, true or false, is there.

Human beings are builders by nature. Your philosophy
is the foundation upon which you build your life. In
the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ spoke of The
Two Foundations. The Master spoke of a wise man who
built his house upon the rock:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the
winds blew and burst against that house; and yet it
did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.

And Christ told of another man-a “foolish man”-who
built his house on sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the
winds blew and burst against that house; and it fell
and great was its fall.

Your philosophy is the source of your failure or
success. And the philosophy I recommend you adopt
is The Slight Edge.

PHILOSOPHY > Attitude > Actions > Results > Quality of Life

WHAT DO YOU THINK is the key that unlocks The Slight Edge?

When I ask this question in seminars and training,
here’s the answer I get back most often: “The key
is knowledge.” To a point, that’s correct. But
there’s more. Educating yourself is the critical
ingredient in The Slight Edge philosophy. You must
acquire the knowledge you need to master any subject,
and pursuit that will contribute to your personal and
professional growth and development.

There are three ways for you to get this knowledge:

1) Studied Knowledge

2) Activity Knowledge

3) Modeled Knowledge

STUDIED KNOWLEDGE. Books, tapes, seminars, training;
read, listen, and attend everything you can; then,
read, listen, and attend some more…study. READ 20
DAY. Pick books that make a contribution to your goals.
You’re either building someone else’s dream or building
your own. When you read romance, mystery, or detective
novels, whose dream are you building-yours, or the
author’s and publisher’s? When you read Napoleon Hill’s
Think and Grow Rich-a book that took 20 years to write,
that interviews the richest and most successful men
and women in the world and reveals their 13 success
secrets-whose dream are you building? Read 20 pages
per day of an empowering book. Is that easy to do?
Sure. And that simple discipline compounded over time,
like a penny doubled daily for a month, will send you
to the top! Is it easy not to do? SURE. And if you
don’t do it, will you destroy your life and work today?
No way. But that simple error in judgment, compounded
over time, will pull you down and take you out of your

Listen to a self-improvement cassette tape for 15
minutes every day. You can listen to music on the
radio in your car, building Michael Jackson’s dream
or Barbara Streisand’s. Why not choose instead to
build your own dreams? Listen to Jim Rohn’s tapes.
He’s a master-and he’ll help you build YOUR dreams.
Is listening to a tape for 15 minutes a day easy to
do? Of course. Is it easy not to do?…And if you
don’t do it, will that ruin your life right now?…

Do a self-improvement seminar or training every few months.

Better yet, do one every month. Take a course.
Take two. If you don’t have the time to do that,
because you’re playing softball every Tuesday and
Thursday night, you just don’t get it! If your
bowling average is over 180-you’re losing your Edge,
right now! Skip the bowling league. Take a class
instead. Is that easy to do?… Is it easy not to
do?…And if you don’t do it, what will happen
today?… But that simple error in judgment,
compounded over time WILL kill you! You’ll end
up a willing participant in the “conspiracy of
mediocrity” that ‘s destroying 95 percent of the
people in this country!

ACTIVITY KNOWLEDGE. Life is not a spectator
sport-fish or cut bait. Lead, follow, or get
out of the way. And life is not a result, either.
Life is not the goal-it’s the PROCESS. The road to
success is always under construction. Marx was wrong:
Life is both the ends and the means. Emerson said,
“Do the thing and you’ll have the power.” You can’t
just go get the power and then do the thing. The
only way to have the power is to do it, just do it.
People constantly ask me for the key to success.
“What’s the one thing I can do to guarantee my
success?” My answer is always the same: Be here-
actively immersed in the process-one year from now.
That’s the right answer-don’t you agree? It’s The
Slight Edge answer. Commit to the process. The
process is THE SLIGHT EDGE. Is it easy to do?…
Is it easy not to do?

MODELED KNOWLEDGE. Did you know that your income
will tend to be the average of your ten best friends’
incomes? (If having more income is a goal of yours,
either get new friends or raise the income of the
friends you have now!) If you want to raise the
quality of your life, hang out with people who have
been there and done that. If you want to be a great
public speaker, hang out with great speakers. If you
want to be a success in business, hang around
successful business people. If you want to be a
terrific parent, spend lots of time with men and
women who have mastered parenting. Do you know why
birds of a feather flock together? Because they’re
all going in the same direction. They share a common
vision. If you’re after a goal-any goal-go find the
people who have achieved that goal, or who are well
along the path to attaining that goal, and be with
them, hang out with them, camp on their doorstep.
It’s called the Law of Association. It’s a Law
because it always works. The first commandment of
The Slight Edge:

Thou shalt educate thyself.

Is it easy to do? Is it easy not to do? And if
you don’t do it, will you fail today? But that
simple error in judgment, compounded over time,
LEARNING TO LEARN is committing to the process.
The Slight Edge is the process.

“The only person who is educated is the one who has
learned how to learn.” -Carl Rogers Freedom

To make The Slight Edge work for you, you must
learn how to learn.

Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, wrote:

“Learning is an approach, both to knowledge and to
life, that emphasizes human initiative. It encompasses
the acquisition and practice of new methodologies, new
skills, new attitudes, and new values necessary to live
in a world of change. Learning is a process of preparing
to deal with new situations.”

Clearly, we live in a world of change. Constant change.
Rapid change. Today, we accomplish in five years what
our grandparents and parents took 50 years to do. And
everything’s getting faster! Learning to learn is a
mandatory for success today-and especially for
tomorrow. Learning to learn is committing to the
process. The Slight Edge is the process. Learning
to learn is a choice. You make that choice moment
to moment-not just once and then you’re done with
it for the rest of your life. Each new moment will
present you with a new choice. Choose to read 20
pages a day-and you’ll have to make that choice
every day. Choose to model and associate with
winners-and you’ll have to make that choice every
day as well. You have to choose to make The Slight
Edge work for you-moment to moment.