Thursday, February 17, 2022




“Give me six hours to chop down a tree,
and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” 
— Abraham Lincoln (attrib.)

The greatest gift you could ever give yourself is also the wisest business investment you could ever make. What is this mysterious gift? It is your own personal development; investing in your own improvement, your own personal growth and betterment. 

Time may not heal all wounds, but it does bring about all change, sooner or later. In terms of living and mastering the slight edge, the most important force you can harness to accelerate and amplify your path through life is the power of continuous learning.

Once you’ve grasped the philosophy of the slight edge and set foot on the path of mastery, educating yourself through any and all means available is the critical process that will keep you on that path and make the slight edge work for you.

In assessing the state of literacy in today’s media-crazy world, 
Mr. Twain might have said: the problem is not that people read too little, but that they fill their brains with stuff that ain’t doing them no good.

Are you developing yourself? Are you building your dream, or only your boss’s? If you read ten pages a day, then you’ll go through an entire 300-page book in one month. 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. Are these things easy to do? Sure. And those simple disciplines compounded over time, will send you up to the top. 

Plenty of people invest a good amount of time and effort accumulating knowledge, but still end up living their lives on the failure curve. Why? Because mastering the slight edge and moving onto the success curve is not only a question of the quantity of your learning but also the quality of that learning — and especially whether it includes any doing.

There are two kinds of learning: learning by study — which includes reading, listening to audios, and attending classes and seminars — and learning by doing. 

As passionate as I am about improving yourself by studying with great teachers, through great books, audios, and workshops, I also know that all the study in the world won’t build your business, establish your health, create a rich and fulfilling family life, and make you a happier person. That takes your getting up and out of your chair and doing it. 

Book smarts is not enough: all true success is built from a foundation of study plus street smarts. If you want to stay grounded and move ahead at the same time, you need a balance. Life is not a spectator sport; as a matter of fact, it’s a contact sport, and there are no practice sessions, and you’ve been in the game from day one. Life lives in the right-here, right-now.

Do the thing, and you shall have the power. The only way to have the power is to do the thing. Just do it. Learn by doing.

“Be here, actively immersed in the process, one year from now.” You can’t build your dream by what you’re going to do or planning to do or intending to do. You only build your dream by building it. You have to jump off the lily pad. Life is doing. If you aren’t doing, you’re dying.

“Knowledge without practice is useless, 
and practice without knowledge is dangerous.” 
- Confucius

You can’t excel based purely on knowledge learned through study; and you can’t excel purely through knowledge gleaned through action. The two have to work together. You study, and then you do activity. The activity changes your frame of reference, and now you are in a place where you can learn more. Then you learn more, and it gives you more insight into what you experienced in your activity, so now you reapproach activity with more insight. And back and forth it goes. That back-and-forth rhythm is worth noting, because it isn’t just the rhythm of learning. It is the rhythm of success.

Those who understand the slight edge embrace Thomas Watson’s philosophy about failure:

...Double your rate of failure...You’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure — or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success. On the other side of failure.

Your own thoughts are one of the most powerful examples of the slight edge there is. Your thoughts multiply themselves by the power of compounding interest and, like a mental water hyacinth, over time (often a lot less time than you might expect) they come to cover the pond of your mind. This is true of positive thoughts. And just as true of negative thoughts.

As we saw earlier, it’s not even a matter of “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Forget wishing — it’s a matter of what you think, period. Because what you think, multiplied by action plus time, will create what you get. You, through the power of your own thoughts, are the most influential person in your life. Which means there is nobody more effective at undermining your success — and nobody more effective at supporting your success. 

The purpose of investing in yourself is not to accumulate skills or fluency in specific areas of knowledge. The principal aim in self investment is to train how you think and what you think. 

Your conscious brain is the part that does what we think of as “thinking.” It focuses intensely on one thing at a time, something like a flashlight beam scanning a darkened room. The conscious brain is incredibly powerful at what it does, but its scope is very limited. 

If your conscious brain is like a flashlight, illuminating one object at a time, your subconscious brain is like a superfloodlight, illuminating everything at once — but only on a subconscious level.

Your conscious brain is easily distracted. The average person loses conscious focus six to ten times per minute. How often does the subconscious lose focus? Try never.

The truth is, the subconscious runs virtually everything.

The sobering fact is, you do 99.99 percent of everything you do on automatic pilot. The sobering fact is, we all do 99.99 percent of our lives on automatic pilot.

What determines where you end up? It’s all a question of what route you have programmed into your subconscious. And that’s something that you can let others program for you (your school, parents, teachers, friends, TV, etc.) — or you can choose to program it yourself.

It’s up to you. 

So, how do you program that life route? How do you determine the choices and decisions that your subconscious makes for you in carving out your life path? The same way you learned to tie your shoes: you create it first with intention, with your conscious mind, and then repeat it over and over, in slight-edge fashion, until it is handed off to your subconscious — at which point those three magic words kick in: It becomes automatic.

Essential Points from Chapter Twelve

* The wisest investment you can make is to invest in your own continuous learning and development.

* Learning by studying and learning by doing — book smarts and street smarts — are the two essential pistons of the engine of learning.

* On the path to a goal you will be off-course most of the time. Which means the only way to reach a goal is through constant and continuous course correction. It’s essential that you take charge of your automatic pilot’s training.

Slight Edge | Chapter 11

Slight Edge | Chapter 13

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