As a business owner, we frequently underestimate the impact of small changes that when repeated frequently, add up over time.
For example: If you saved a $1 a day at a 10% rate of interest, you’d have a $1m in the bank in 56 years.
But before you say, well a 10% rate of interest is pretty unlikely at your bank, consider this; $10 spent every day on eating take out a lunch would be almost $37,000 over 10 years or $25,000 if you only had take out on week days.
Small changes repeated over time will almost certainly surprise you.
It’s a natural failing of the human brain that we don’t recognise the impact of small changes because our survival instincts have us too often living in the moment.
As a race, We have very poor ability and estimating the impact of very small things repeated over the long term.
You are either on a success curve or a failure curve. The problem is that most people don’t really completely realise which one they are on until a lot of time has passed. That’s because we all make a lot of small decisions everyday that don’t have an immediately noticeable results or effects.
The 300,000 word book
Let me give you an example. On this blog there are almost 350 articles equating to approximately 300,000 typed words. Which if printed out and stapled together would stretch to a 1200 page (poorly edited!) book. Now had I set out to write a 1200 page, I would probably still not have started.
“Most people overesitmate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years”
– Bill Gates
If you understood the areas in your life where the little things done consistently can bring enormous results over time. The direction of your life would change for the better. But as in everything with human beings, nothing is that simple.
Small changes make the Slight Edge
Jeff Olsen the author of the Slight Edge, tell us that there are 3 reasons why simply understanding that small changes and repeating them often won’t make a difference in us doing them.
1) Whilst they are easy to do, they are also easy not to do
2) Won’t see any results at first
3) The changes seem insignificant like they don’t matter
For example if you regularly have sugar in your morning coffee, it’s pretty easy to add the sugar, just like you’ve always done. So, even if you did remember not to do it, you won’t see any noticeable changes in a short period of time. It would probably it would take months before you noticed any difference to your waistline.
So consequently most people think “well it’s not going to make much difference whether I start today or tomorrow”.
Pretty soon though and a couple of years down the track and you realise that the small changes work the other way and you can no longer fit into the same size jeans that you used to.
Fast forward your own life a couple of years and think about if you applied the small changes of the slight edge to every aspect of your life then chances are you’d have more money in your pocket, a more successful business and better relationships with friends and family.
Now think about yourself as if you haven’t pursued the slight edge across every area of your life. The chances are that you would probably have the same areas of dissatisfaction as you do today. “I don’t have enough money”, “My business isn’t where I wanted it to be”, “my partner just doesn’t understand me”.
Now don’t get me wrong, implementing the Slight Edge into every aspect of your life sounds easy, but it’s not. Making even small changes to every aspect of your life is hard.
Which is why Olsen came up with 7 habits to make your role more successful. As Olsen says, these are the:
“steel cables that will unflinchingly bear you up under any circumstance and support you on the path to your dreams.”
– Jeff Olsen
7 Daily Habits for implementing a slight edge
Habit #1: Show Up
“Eighty percent of success is showing up”
– Woody Allen
Commit to what you want to change and do it.
Habit#2: being consistent
Showing up is important, but showing up consistently is the important thing, because if you don’t show up consistently then you won’t make the commitment stick. However, what tends to happen after a little while is that you start to crave the commitment. Which means that eventually it will become automatic.
Habit#3: Have a positive outlook
We all know that having too much stress is bad for your health. So when you think abut the commitment you’re making, think of the positive reasons for doing it. Or what you can be grateful for as a result of the habit.
For example, one of the first things I do each morning is walk the dog. No matter what the weather we’ve been getting up and heading off outside for 30 minutes. Because I use a Fitbit and monitor the number of steps I take on a daily basis, I know that by the time I’ve got back from the morning walk, 40% of my daily step target will have been achieved.
So even on the bad weather days, I know I’m going to achieve my exercise target for the day and therefore it keeps me positive.
— Big Red Tomato Co (@bigredtomato) April 9, 2015
Habit#4: Be committed for the long haul
This is the hardest one for most to take people to take on board because in modern day cultures we are used to instant gratification (video on demand, instant downloads, microwave ovens and fast food) that we aren’t prepared to wait 120 days to see any kind of progress.
Any commitment you make has to be for the long haul. If you aren’t fully committed that this is something you could do every day for the rest of your life, then you will soon fall off track. This is the exact same reason as to why diets don’t work at least not over the long term. Because we think of diets as something temporary or short term, whereas a healthy living is a way of life.
Habit#5: Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith
As Napoleon Hill said in the book Think and Grow Rich:
“Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.”
– Napoleon Hill
Desire is what gets you up early and keeps you up late at night and what keeps you motivated to press forward when adversity hits. Your desire is driven by your why. (The why you are doing what you’re doing and having no doubt that you will eventually get there.)
[See related article: Why Every Small Business Owner Needs To Start With Why]
Habit#6: Be willing to pay the price
As a business owner you have the same 24 hours, 365 days a year as everyone else. So in order to make your small changes to your life (even small ones) something has to give.
If you’re like a typical American who spends an average of 40 minutes a day on Facebook, (which is more time than they spend on their pets) or 5 hours watching TV, then you’ve probably got a great place to start.
The latest episode of Breaking Bad or House of Cards may just have to wait. It’s a question of priorities.
Habit#7: Practice slight edge integrity
What would you do when most people aren’t watching? If no one’s watching it’s easy to When you are doing the things because you said you would do them, not because someone is watching.
When you put these all these habits together and made the small changes you’ll have the life or business you wanted, not today, not tomorrow but probably much sooner than you expected.
“You can’t change your destination overnight. But you CAN change your direction overnight.”
– Jim Rohn
If you’d like help in working through areas of your business to implement your own slight edge click here.