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What is the Slight-Edge?

To me, it’s one of most the most exciting ideas in the whole field of self-development.

In simple terms, it’s what lubricating oil is to machinery; what a sharp razor vs. a dull razor is to a face; what a tune-up is to an automobile; and what self-development is to maximizing human potential.

Put simply, it’s the little difference that makes the big difference. It’s based on the theory that  success is measured in inches, that success is only inches beyond mediocrity, and the only problem in climbing the ladder of success is getting through the crowd at the bottom.

For many, just understanding the power inherent in the slight-edge principle is in itself motivational. It triggers pro-active mental and behavioral changes that can tap a wellspring of power, that can turn wishes, wants, hopes, and dreams into expectations, and expectations into reality.

Ask yourself, if you could raise effectiveness just a few percentage points in each area of life, what would it mean to the overall quality of your life?

The answer, a great deal, because this theory explains how even a little increase in our effectiveness can produce outstanding, dramatic, and exciting results beyond our greatest expectations, because this is not just a matter of simple arithmetic or incremental benefits.

Instead, the slight-edge is a multiplier factor that can turn losers and non-winners into winners and champions.

For example, consider the sport of baseball. How many extra hits per 10 times at bat does a 350 hitter get that a 250 hitter doesn’t get.

The answer, just one, which is approximately one extra hit every three games. The question, is how much more does a 350 hitter earn compared to a 250 hitter? The answer, often as much as 5, 10 up to 20 times more. Add to this the millions in royalties from beer, shaving cream, and underwear commercials, and you begin to understand why it pays to develop and refine your slight-edge.

Think about it, the difference between a hit and no hit is but a fraction of an inch on the baseball bat, or a fraction of a second in the race to first base, yet the income payoff for being fractionally better is measured in huge multiples.

The same thing is true in golf where 1/2 stroke per game or two strokes in a tournament can increase earnings five times.

In a horse race, in track, in swimming, winners often win by seconds, fractions of a second, or a nose, but again, the winners are not 5 or 10 times faster, but the payoff in earnings for being a little better is disproportionately greater than the difference in performance.

Consider the 2008 Summer Olympics at the Beijing Games where Michael Phelps won a record 8-gold medals, his 7th won by only 1/100 of a second.

It’s as though society offers disproportionate benefits in order to encourage and reward outstanding achievement.

Unfortunately, the “slight-edge” in athletics is so great that athletes will use steroids, in spite of the health risks, potential legal problems, or the irreparable damage it could do to their reputations.

In business, look at the salary differences between CEO’s and lower management.

In sales, the 80/20 rule says that the top 20-percenters in most sales organizations are outperforming their peers by as much as four to one.

Picture two salespeople who get on the telephone and make 100 prospecting calls in an eight hour day, 12 calls an hour. One salesman gets two qualified leads, the other eight. This means that one salesperson can do in one day what the other needs four days to accomplish. He’s four times as productive, four times as effective.

The question is, are they working four times as hard? Are they putting in four times the hours? Are they four times as smart? Are they four times as good? The answer in all four cases, is an unqualified no. They’ve simply developed a slight-edge.

One is just a little better. Maybe a little better planned, a little more knowledgeable, a little more empathic, confident and assertive, or a little less defensive, or has a little better attitude.

Or consider the slight-edge as it applies to interpersonal relationships.

Think about how many relationships fail because one of the parties was a little too defensive, too sensitive, or too jealous, while the other might have been a little too insensitive, too critical, or too unforgiving.

And consider how many divorces and law suits result from just a little breakdown in communications.

The point once again, you don’t have to become four times as good to get four times the benefits or results.

All you have to do is be like the winners and follow the path of most resistance, while the blamers, complainers, and losers follow the path of least resistance and become the might-have-beens, nearlies and also-rans.

So pay the price and start developing your slight edge. The rewards will be more than worth it.

Roger Hance

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