The number 1 book that made me a stronger person

Quite literally — in fact — I have beat over 170 personal fitness records since I read this book in August 2012.

But it made me stronger in all aspects of my life, because it taught me how I can strengthen myself in every area of my life.


Prior to reading this book, I was aimless. I lived just to get by. I felt I didn’t utilize my potential, but I felt I had no control over my life.

I led the reactive life. When the prolonged period of student loan forbearance ended, I asked for a salary raise. When my wife got pregnant with our third kid, we looked for our own place in “emergency mode.”

Because I felt no deeper purpose in my life, I succumbed to many pleasures in order to temporarily forget about this void. I played computer games, read a lot of fiction, browsed news sites mindlessly and watched TV.

I didn’t believe I could achieve anything meaningful like: get better job, develop my education, have positive impact on the lives of others, deepen my spiritual life, lose weight or start my own business.


“The Slight Edge” landed in my lap while I was on vacation in Ireland. I had been visiting my parents as well as my sister who literally travels the world.

She had the book — I was bored. I hadn’t read anything concerning personal development for about 16 years. Long ago, I decided that personal development “doesn’t work” for me.

But I was bored.

So I read it in one day.

Jeff Olson elaborated on Jim Rohn’s simple messages regarding success and failure:

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”
“Failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”

Jeff explained in details how small disciplines accumulate their effect and how small errors in judgement bring disaster to one’s life.

“The Slight Edge” was different than all the books I had read previously. When I reflected on my past, I quickly noticed cases when I could attribute my successes to my daily disciplines, and my failures — to daily neglect.

I tried to start a MLM (Multi-level-marketing) business when I was 17 years old. I failed because of my fear of personal interactions. I simply didn’t do enough on a daily basis to succeed.


My past successes were especially motivating for me.

I passed my final high school exams with flying colors and (barely) got in a university. I attributed that to my learning habit that I cultivated during the vacations before the last year of high school. For one hour a day, I had been studying math and English. It was enough not to lose momentum before the last year.

I could do well over 100 pushups in a row, because every morning I did one consecutive series of them in the morning.

I got an educational stipend during my forth year at a university simply because I attended all lectures. My brighter colleagues didn’t have this habit — and showing up was enough to beat them.


Because I could find concrete examples from my past, I owned the lessons instanced in the book. I internalized them. I read the book only once and I skipped a few first chapters. But I have lived it since then.

I didn’t start right away. 16 years of inertia was a lot to overcome.

But I couldn’t get rid of the book’s message. In the end, I decided to give it a try because I had nothing to lose. I was sure I could not change my life. If I had failed with “The Slight Edge’s” implementation, where would I have been? Only at the same miserable place.

It took me one whole month before I finally sat down and wrote down several goals. Additionally, I wrote down 15 daily disciplines that should have helped me to achieve them.

The Simple Beginning

It took me only about 15 minutes to come up with those goals and disciplines. Every answer was hidden in me despite the years of avoiding self-analysis.

I quickly abandoned 5 out of the 15 disciplines. They were stupid ideas or simply hard to implement in the place where my life was.

The rest of them, I had been practicing for at least several months. They were “spot on.” Even those I abandoned at the later stage, brought me significant results.

For example, I decided to study professional documentation for 10 minutes a day. In two years, I passed three exams and got two professional certificates in Oracle database certification.


Six of the initial disciplines, I’ve been practicing for years and they still contribute to my life.

Small consistent daily disciplines revolutionized my life.

I quickly noticed results. In one month of speed reading practice, I doubled my reading speed. That was the first time I thought, “Wow, this approach works!”

I had no idea how well it worked. I was right — I had nothing to lose. I just couldn’t envision how much I had to win.

Because of those initial results visible in a few areas, I kept all my disciplines and even added more along the way.

In some areas — like my spiritual life — I was convinced I couldn’t observe results. It’s not something that is measurable — and any internal feelings in that regard could be misleading. But I knew that the “Slight Edge way” was universal, so I kept my spiritual disciplines as well.

After a couple of months, I discovered I want to become a writer. In eight months, I published my first book. I kept my writing-related disciplines even though my results were laughable.

In the first 5 months, I earned an equivalent of a single overtime hour at my day job. After 18 months since reading, “The Slight Edge” and publishing five books — my royalties reached 2% of my salary.

However, I was hooked. I trusted the process. Success is a few simple disciplines repeated consistently over time.

The Results

“The Slight Edge” made me stronger.

15 months after I read it, the new edition of the book was published. My transformation story was included in it.

Since 2014, I’ve been publishing the annual Slight Edge reports describing my progress. The last one was quite impressive.

The next one will be even more impressive. It’s still three months to the anniversary, but I already doubled my book sales; doubled the number of my email subscribers; and quadrupled some other metrics in my business.

I earn more than half of my day job salary from royalties and my coaching practice.

Hundreds of thousands people read my articles online. Thousands of people buy my books every year. Thousands of people follow me on social media and look up to me.

This is unbelievable. When I compare the two pictures, I cannot connect the dots. Five years ago, I started a dozen of small daily disciplines.

Today, I influence lives of thousands people.

I grew in strength.

This article was originally published at Quora.