Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Principle of the Slight Edge

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a principle I found in John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It was called, the Principle of the Process. As I read the chapter in his book, I was reminded of another principle I had the privilege of learning from a man named Olan Hendrix, and it’s called “The Principle of the Slight Edge.”

Olan Hendrix has served on the board of and advised many organizations during his incredible life, but it’s pretty remarkable to consider that he only had a sixth grade education, and enlisted in the military at a young age around the time of WWII.

Olan’s life was radically changed by Jesus Christ, and when the change took place, he started pursuing this principle that has defined his life. In 2001, he shared this principle with a group of staff with GCM who were about to embark on a career in vocational ministry. I was one of those staff.

The principle of the slight edge roughly paraphrased states,

Throughout history, the greatest achievements in any field have been performed by those who exelled above the masses in their area of expertise by only a slight edge.

For example, there are many great basketball players, but the difference between them and a Michael Jordan is ever so slight. But it is a difference.

This principle, when applied is very reminiscent of the law of the process. You see, it’s application reminds me of the incremental effects of diligence in our work. You see, it has to do with pushing ourselves to do a little bit more. For instance, I might not be able to read a whole book a day, but I can read one more chapter, or one more paragraph or one more sentence, and push myself by a slight edge beyond my normal constraints.

I might not be able to spend five hours a day giving myself to some area of discipline whether it be exercise or reading, but I can start with five minutes. You see it is better to push yourself with an incremental goal than it ever is to just not try. I may not be able to play basketball like Michael Jordan, but I can improve my skill level by a slight edge with practice.

I hope that as you read this post, you’ll find yourself desiring to take a little bit of time to push yourself in goals, whether they be geared toward faith, weight-loss, fitness, stewardship or some other arena. Push yourself incrementally, and you will be amazed at the difference it makes!

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