I have very little regard for trainings that tell you “This is exactly how you have to do it,” because the actual sequence of actions and events that works will be different for everyone, everytime. You can train people in the concepts, in how to think and what kinds of actions have worked, but you can’t blueprint the specific sequence, because circumstances are always different. (134)

Key Takeaways:

  • Philosophy Lead
  • Plan & Pivot

My wife is on a conference call earlier this year with a number of volleyball coaches discussing the challenges for the upcoming season. During the call – slightly eavesdropping – I hear the speaker suggest a mentality everyone can embrace, “Plan to Play, then Pivot.” It was the first time I had heard this and loved it. Certainly applicable for the circumstances, coincidentally also a part of the final chapters of The Slight Edge.

For a goal to come true:

You must write it down, make it specific and give it a deadline;

You must look at it every day; 

You must understand and pay the price;

You must have a plan to start with. (127)

The main message of the book remained the same throughout, understanding the value in compound interest or actionable behaviors consistently towards a dedicated goal. The final pages looked to encapsulate that message with turning dreams into reality with the caveat that dreams do not always go as planned.

As it relates to the game of basketball, one of the oft used instructions our staff attempts to reinforce is having a plan. On the court, this reference likely comes up in situations where our athletes are indecisive, caught off-guard, or passive offensively. We look to encourage our players to think before they act – observe the defense prior to receiving the ball to make the best possible decisions. As a staff, we come up with a practice plan intending to best prepare our players to be most successful for any situation (competitive or otherwise) based on our principles. We will do this daily until our plans reveal whether we are headed in the right direction or not. If not, then we have to make an adjustment. It’s that simple.

It is never that simple. And if I could pivot to the contribution of confidence, one of the variables that can certainly play a role in the level of success when attempting to turn a dream into reality. My dive into confidence is personal, as it is additionally helpful from a coaching standpoint. We are in a position routinely to evaluate our players’ skill development and conceptual retention, while trying to stay abreast of their emotional intelligence (EQ). The ones that seem to have a stronger sense of self may be more skilled, but often seem most comfortable with themselves as a player, person, and fit with the team. There is evidence of a plan in place. It could be to portray themselves as the leader of the team. Or to be the best defender.

The biggest contributor to the lack of confidence is in quitting. It takes you out of the element to understand the sensory feeling within a variety of moments. If you quit becoming a shooter during pressure situations, when put in a moment without a choice but to shoot that pressure will feel paralyzing. As opposed to understanding sometimes being the best shooter comes with the probability that a miss will happen during the most gut-wrenching of situations; confidence comes knowing within that the next time you’re open regardless of time and score you expect that shot to go in for the team.

The price of neglect is much worse than the price of the discipline. (132)

From these final chapters, pivot alludes to a form of recognition of failure that is certain to come with any endeavor and having the willingness to move forward. Maybe, it is in a different direction or with a different approach. Nevertheless, failure is frustrating because in our dreams we often don’t visualize the scenarios of failure. We don’t go into our driveways to shoot the game-winning shot with the clock running down to miss the shot and assess our feelings. If the kid was anything like me, they just kept repeating the countdown until the shot went in and the crowd went crazy. That’s not life though, the shot doesn’t always go in and there isn’t the immediate mulligan provided during a game. We have heard before it is not the events that always define us, but our responses afterwards. Quitting can be one of the worst decisions to diminish confidence. In the famous words of Jim Valvano, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

Final Thoughts

It is a relatively quick read (163 pages) with a consistent message throughout the entire book – take a step(s) forward daily. Whether you are focused on finance, health, or athletics compound interest can impact our every day lifestyle. To become more fit, start with one push-up or with one less soda. If looking to attain knowledge read 10 minutes today, then repeat the next day for the entire year.

I am hoping to gain a little bit more understanding surrounding confidence from a psychological and physiological standpoint; this wouldn’t be my first recommendation. It could be argued that there is some overlap between the concept of compound interest and confidence. Self-efficacy likely increases over time from repetition. And compound interest in theory is the continual reinvestment from any starting point. Bringing it to basketball, everyone starts with a ball and a hoop. If you continue to invest in putting the ball into the hoop it should provide confidence for an athlete. Many understand this, not as many follow through with it. Maybe, this is where the book misses; people don’t reinvest all the time even though they understand what it takes, in theory, to become better.

The most used quote, “Is it easy to do? Yes. Is it easy not to do? Yes.” There isn’t any revelation coming from The Slight Edge, the author Jeff Olson admits to this in the early chapters. The book is written anecdotally and as a conversation. Much of Olson’s stories told from personal experience and the observation of others that have struggled to imitate similar success.

Envisioning doesn’t happen simply by creating a picture in your mind. If your dreams and aspirations are happening in your mind only, that’s not envisioning, that’s wishful thinking. (128)

It is one thing to want to win or to be financially stable. It is another thing to conceptualize what it will take to accomplish either of those ambitions with consistent actionable steps to make it happen. We all have been guilty of this whether it has been in relationships, diet, or competition. Our daily choices reflect our priorities. And this book provides simple reminders that to go where we want to go isn’t necessarily hard to do, but equally as easy to choose otherwise.


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