I love reading and I love reading a lot. But sometimes I get depressed and don’t “feel it” or I get busy and don’t pick up a book. Author Jeff Olson, in his book The Slight Edge offers a solution to this problem:
Everything you need to know to be successful—every how-to, every practical action—is already written in books like these. Here’s a Slight Edge action guaranteed to change your life: read just ten pages of a good book, a book aimed at improving your life, every day.
If you read ten pages of a good book today, will your life change? Of course not. If you don’t read ten pages of a good book today, will your life fall apart? Of course not.
I could tell my shoeshine friend that if she would agree to read ten pages of one of these good books every single day, over time, she could not help but accumulate all the knowledge she’d ever need to be as successful as she ever wanted to be—successful enough to send her daughter to that cheerleading camp and hey, to send her to the best college in the country if she wanted. Like a penny over time, reading ten pages a day would compound, just like that, and create a ten-million-dollar bank of knowledge in her.
Would she do it? On day 1, sure. And day 2. And maybe day 3. But would she still be doing it by the end of the week? If she did keep reading, over the course of the year she would have read 3,650 pages—the equivalent of one or two dozen books of life-transforming material! Would her life have changed? Absolutely. No question. But here, back in week 1, all that’s still an invisible result.
And that is exactly why most people never learn to recognize or understand the Slight Edge, the reason most people never learn how to make the Slight Edge work for them, and why the Slight Edge ends up working against them: When you make the right choice, you won’t see the results. At least, not today.
We live in a result-focused world. We expect to see results, and we expect to see them now. Push the button, the light flicks on. Step on the scale, look in the mirror, check the account balance online 24/7. Give me feedback, trip a sensor, hit a buzzer, tell me, tell me, tell me it’s working!(Olson, 37)
Just ten pages a day, a discipline that could be accomplished a page at a time if necessary could lead you or I to read 3650 words per year, minimum. Most people won’t do it because it doesn’t feel epic enough. Same reason many people quit simple but effective training routines like Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, Body by Science by Doug McGuff, the six week program by Johnny Candito or Heavy Duty by Mike Mentzer. All of these programs will yield impressive results over the course of 12 months. The results will be even more impressive if the training is accompanied by increased sleep and improved diet. But, since the results won’t be evident in three weeks or six weeks, most people will give up. When I was a personal trainer I had several people give up while they were still simply learning perfect form.
Anyhow, don’t let time be the excuse you don’t read. This is especially important if you’re a teacher or a clergy member whose job is to be informed.