Tuesday, February 22, 2022




“Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. 
Sow a character, reap a destiny.” 
— Charles Reade (attrib.)

We tend to overlook the enormous power of positive, intentional habits. It’s not that good habits don’t exist, or that we don’t have them. We do. It’s just that we typically take them for granted.

Habit and Choice: 

There are two kinds of habits: those that serve you, and those that don’t. A habit is something you do without thinking.

Every habit; the good and the bad, has its roots in choice — in little decisions you make and over which you have complete control. Complete control, that is, at first. Until they become automatic and take on a life of their own — a life that will determine the direction of your life. So the question is: which behaviors do you want to have take on a life of their own?

The creation of habits is a pure slight edge: simple little actions, repeated over time. The compounded effect of those habits over time will work either for you or against you, depending on whether they are habits that serve you, or habits that don’t. Your habits are what will propel you up the success curve or down the failure curve.

“The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might of the force of habit — and must understand that practices are what create habits. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him — and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that can help him achieve the success he desires.” 
- J. Paul Getty

The key to your success, to mastering the slight edge through the long-term effect of your everyday habits of thought and action, is your philosophy.

Each choice is like a length of steel wire. By itself, it’s not that big a deal — but when braided together, when compounded with all the other choices you make, these slender lengths of wire form tree-trunk-like tension lines of awesome strength. 

“Nothing is stronger than habit.” 
- Ovid

The cables made from your right choices uphold and support you. Those made from wrong choices imprison and restrain you. These cables are your habits of thought and attitude. Want to know where the slight edge is taking you? Look at your predominant habits of thought and the kinds of choices you habitually make.

Your habits operate at the unconscious level, which means you are not normally aware of them. It’s only by bringing a habit into your conscious awareness that you can observe what it’s doing, how it empowers and serves you…or doesn’t. By developing slight edge thinking — and especially by using the slight edge ally of reflection — you’ll shine the bright light of awareness on your habits. Once you’re aware of a habit that doesn’t serve you, how do you change it or get rid of it? All it takes is knowing where to focus your energy. That, plus time.

It’s tough to get rid of the habit you don’t want by facing it head on. The way to accomplish it is to replace the unwanted habit with another habit that you do want. You do it the same way you built any habit you have: one step at a time. Baby steps. The slight edge.

Here are seven positive, productive habits of attitude and behavior:

Habit #1: Show Up 

Be the frog who not only decides to jump off the lily pad but actually jumps. 

Skill, knowledge, experience, connections, resources, finesse, expertise, all these things are part of the journey — but none of them are possible until the journey itself is initiated. Do the thing, and you shall have the power.

If you’ll just commit to showing up, that’s half the battle right there. By simply showing up you can rise above half of the population in any circumstance.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don ’t give up. 
- Anne Lamott, author of Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

Habit #2: Be Consistent 

According to Woody Allen, 80 percent of success is showing up. That’s a philosophy I subscribe to wholeheartedly — but I would add two words: 80 percent of success is showing up every day. 

As essential as it is to show up, it is consistency that greatly multiplies its power. Showing up consistently is where the magic happens. 

In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted; if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end. - Tom Seaver

If you will commit to showing up consistently, every day, no matter what, then you have already won well more than half the battle. The rest is up to skill, knowledge, drive, and execution.

Habit #3: Have a Positive Outlook

Approaching the events of everyday life with a consistently positive outlook moves you toward your goals.

People who consistently practice seeing opportunities instead of problems, who focus on the best in a situation rather than the worst, who notice other people’s better qualities and look past their weaker ones, who see the glass as at least half-full in every circumstance, are happier, more creative, earn more money, have more friendships, have better immune response, have less heart disease and strokes, have better and longer-lasting marriages, live longer, and are more successful in their careers.

In fact, people who have made a habit of positive outlook don’t just see the glass as half-full: they see it as overflowing. And because they see it that way — because that’s their attitude — it consistently ends up being that way for them. 

Of all the factors possibly influencing health, vitality, and longevity, Dan Buettner, (author of Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,) and his team compiled a list of nine. 

These people:
(1) live an active life
(2) cultivate purpose and a reason to wake up every morning
(3) take time to de-stress (appreciation, prayer, etc.)
(4) stop eating when they are 80 percent full
(5) eat a diet emphasizing vegetables, especially beans
(6) have moderate alcohol intake (especially dark red wine)
(7) play an active role in a faith-based community
(8) place a strong emphasis on family
(9) are part of like-minded social circles with similar habits

Cultivating positive outlook does not mean you are always happy.

When something is hard or difficult and adversity is at your front door, embrace it, because it will make you stronger and your life richer. You can’t know happiness unless you feel sadness. If you embrace it as part of the process, it can be life-altering. Life is going to get you down and the funk is going to get you. Embrace it and fight through it and know you are not alone. Take baby steps, remember all the slight edge allies you have, and know that there is a path out of the funk.

Habit #4: Be Committed for the Long Haul

Showing up is essential. 
Showing up consistently is powerful. 
Showing up consistently with a positive outlook is even more powerful. 
But doing all that for a week … is just doing it for a week.

Farmers know they have to wait a full season to reap their harvests. In our post-industrial world, where so much of everyday life is accessible through the click of a mouse, it’s easier than ever to forget that. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still true.

Plant, cultivate, harvest. And that second comma, the one between cultivate and harvest, often represents a loooong period of time. 

It takes a long time to grow an old friend. 
- John Leonard

No matter what you are trying to accomplish, you need to ask yourself, am I willing to put in 10,000 hours or more to get what I want?

Habit #5: Cultivate a Burning Desire Backed by Faith

Here is the truth about burning desire: it is a powerful force, and it works in two directions depending on what you see. Most people wish for big things but can’t really see themselves getting them. The few who achieve great things are those who not only passionately wanted to achieve them but also clearly see themselves achieving them. That’s the key to harnessing the power of desire: it is like a team of wild horses that need a driver to steer them in the right direction, and that driver is your vision.

A burning desire backed by faith simply means deeply, passionately wanting to get somewhere and knowing — not hoping, not wishing, but knowing that you’re going to get there. In other words, there has to be congruence between your desire and your faith.

In the course of your journey all sorts of obstacles will appear in the path. And you can determine the size of the person by the size of the problem that keeps them down. Successful people look at a problem and see opportunity. A burning desire is what motivates you to confront them, rather than turn tail and run. But it’s a burning desire backed by faith that takes you through them.

Habit #6: Be Willing to Pay the Price

Actually, it’s not that dramatic. Your dreams may be big (in fact I hope they’re huge), but the steps you take to get there are always going to be small. Baby steps; easy to do. And the price you pay works the same way. You don’t have to pay for your million-dollar dream with a million-dollar personal check. You can pay for it with… well, a penny a day

But you do need to understand what that penny is — and you do need to be willing to pay it. Whatever the dream, whatever the goal, there’s a price you’ll need to pay, and yes, that does mean giving up something.

Remember this: whatever price you pay, there’s a bigger price to pay for not doing it than the price for doing it. The price of neglect is much worse than the price of the discipline. In fact, no matter what price you pay for success, the price for failure is brutal by comparison. It may take five years and 10,000 hours to put your success on track, but it takes a lifetime to fail.

Habit #7: Practice Slight Edge Integrity

There are many definitions of integrity. Honesty. Truthfulness. Congruence between words and deeds. The aspect of integrity that is most applicable to the slight edge is this: what you do when no one is watching.

Slight edge integrity is one of the great secrets of entrepreneurial success. When you own your own business, there is no one telling you that you need to be at work or shouting in your ear to make sales calls. No one is there to make sure you are on top of your vendors and your books are up to date. This is all up to you now. You have no boss.

Actually, that last statement isn’t quite accurate. You do have a boss, but that boss is you. Serving as your own boss, and doing so successfully, consistently, day in and day out, takes an uncommon degree of slight edge integrity, and frankly many business owners just don’t have it. They become intoxicated by the freedom of being their own boss and fail to maintain the kind of structure it takes to become successful. Without that integrity in the little everyday things, a new business can’t keep its head above water for long.

The truth is, living a life is being an entrepreneur. No matter whether you are one of ten thousand employees working at a gigantic corporation, a sole proprietor running your one-man ice cream stand, or a stay-at-home parent managing the household, you are solely in charge of the steadily unfolding course of your life. 

Your life is an Apollo rocket headed for parts yet unknown, and there is no one at the helm but you. You are a novelist, and the story you are inventing, with its rich plot and imaginative palette of distinct and believable characters, is your life. You are the screenwriter, director, and producer of an epic film, one that will run for years. Like Edison, you are an inventor; like Fritjof Nansen, an explorer; like Emerson, a philosopher; like Steve Martin, an entertainer; like Lincoln, a statesman; like Wilberforce, a patient liberator. You are all these things and more — and the fabric of the tapestry upon which you’re assembling this story is made up of tiny threads that few will ever notice as you weave them. You may think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. You are capable of great things. I know this, because I’ve observed the human condition, and every soul alive is capable of great things. Most will never achieve them or experience them. But anyone can, if they only understand how the process works. 

Show up.
Show up consistently.
Show up consistently with a positive outlook
Be prepared for and committed to the long haul.
Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith.
Be willing to pay the price. 
And do the things you’ve committed to doing — even when no one else is watching.

Essential Points from Chapter Fifteen

* There are two kinds of habits: those that serve you, and those that don’t. 

* You have choice over your habits through your choice of everyday actions. 

* The way to erase a bad habit is to replace it with a positive habit. 

* Here are seven powerful, positive slight edge habits:

1. Show up: be the frog who jumps off the lily pad.

2. Show up consistently: keep showing up when others fade out.

3. Cultivate a positive outlook: see the glass as overflowing.

4. Be committed for the long haul: remember the 10,000-hour rule.

5. Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith: not hoping or wishing — knowing.

6. Be willing to pay the price: sometimes you have to quit the softball team.

7. Practice slight edge integrity: do the things you’ve committed to doing, even when no one else is watching.

Slight Edge | Chapter 14

Slight Edge | Chapter 16

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