The pursuit of any aim, goal or dream – personal, professional, spiritual, in any area – is a Slight Edge journey of continuous improvement, learning and refinement. But mastery is not an exalted state that lies at the end of the path; it is a state of mind that lies at the very beginning.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bridging the Gap
  • Five Phases
  • Course Correction & Association

Part Two of The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson focuses on mastery. The Slight Edge is the discipline to embrace actionable decisions daily; mastery is simply the byproduct or return on investment. Between skill-development to financial freedom, there is a gap in our present reality to an envisioned hopeful state. Looking at the image above, the author uses a wavey line to represent the small peaks and valleys throughout our progression towards improvement. Transfer this conversation into basketball and it is any season, or any micro-skill if broken down into a player development perspective. It can be inferred that our confidence levels are analogous to the peaks and valleys between where we start and where we intend to go in the future.

Phases of The Slight Edge

  • Momentum
  • Completion
  • Habit
  • Reflection
  • Celebration

“Is it easy to do? Yes. Easy not to do? Yes. If you don’t do it, will it destroy you? No … but that simple error in judgment, compounded over time, will ruin your chances for success.” (104)

This line is on loop throughout the book, consistently reinforcing how our progression is merely a matter of simple decisions that over time lead to results. Those simple decisions can be as trivial as water instead of soda or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Will a soda be the cause of immediate poor health? Unlikely. However, if the goal is to become healthier than the decision to excuse a soda as opposed to the healthier option it could slowly break your discipline.

It is not always as simple as these decisions, however, when it comes to the game of basketball there shouldn’t be anything that could lead to eventual unhealthy consequences. I have kids all the time that ask me, “Coach, how do I improve my ability to jump higher?” My response to them usually begins with “Jump more often.” The discussion will be more nuanced, I promise. But, the point still remains that to be a better shooter or to be a better anything we have to simply be more actionable and intentional with an increased focus on feedback of our progression. From being actionable, mastery can be attainable. During the process of daily actions, there are phases inherent with the peaks and valleys of our decisions that we alluded to earlier about being disciplined with either soda and water, or with the plan to improve an athlete’s vertical.

Each choice you make is like a length of steel wire. By itself, it’s not that big of a deal, but when braided together, when compounded with all the other choices you make, these lengths of wire form a thick cable of awesome strength and power. (100)

All of these phases can facilitate sustainability:

  • Ride the momentum
  • Small completions lead to bigger victories
  • Breaking bad habits is done by establishing new
  • Busy versus productivity
  • Pride in progress

Course Correction & Association

What’s the shortest path between two points? A straight line, right? Wrong. While that might be true in theory, it’s never true in reality. And reality is where you and I live – and where we succeed or fail. (115)

If Point A to Point B is a plan to become a better shooter there is a likelihood of games where you shoot 0 for 5, or 1 for 10. Continous course correction is the adjustments made during the valleys of any process: losing streaks, slumps, etc. The author uses the example of an Apollo mission on its way to the moon being off course for roughly 97 percent of the mission. A journey of a quarter of a million miles is a master of perfecting constant imperfections. A jump-shooter or a ball-handler with reps are always fine-tuning their skill-set where it almost looks on autopilot but is really an accumulation of corrections from slight inaccuracies. From the constant self-evaluation and practice comes the confidence that despite 0 for 5 in one game, there is a high probability of shooting 75% over the course of the next 3 games.

A lot of these slight alterations, or even the increased repetitions to generate a rhythm comes from the support or competition of others. Stay the course. And surround yourself with other astronauts and mission control (staff) that gives you the confidence to persevere through slight corrections.

A group of like-minded, achievement-oriented individuals, he expalined, could come together to create an association far greater than the sum of its parts, thus dramatically leveeraging each other’s success. (126)


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