Thursday, December 8, 2011

Small decisions

Motivational speakers.

There -- I just polarised my readers.

I'm leary of motivational speakers. They make life's problems sound so predictable, and easy to solve. Just follow these 12 steps ...

My boss left something on my desk recently; an audio book titled 'The Slight Edge' by Jeff Olson.

The slick presentation style was nearly enough to result in an early 'bust off'. The sweeping generalisations made me cranky. The simplistic and formulaic approach of 'Do this, and these things will follow' annoyed me.

But I pushed through. I'm glad I did.

What Olson 'sells' here is the 'slow way to success'. It was his basic premise that kept me listening: that achievement in life was not about 'lucky breaks' or windfalls, but about discipline in making small decisions well.

Decisions like, "Will I eat the cheeseburger or the salad? Will I get up early or sleep in? Will I walk for 20 minutes today, or will I drink a beer and chat on the phone? Will I read a good book or watch television?"

At some points he feels way too dismissive of the choices of others, too ready to make value judgements. But his big idea has stuck with me, and has impacted on my decisions.

Failure in life does not occur in one bad decision but in 10,000 small decisions. So it is with those who build lives that we applaud. It's an exponential curve thing.

Olson has observed a pattern here. The book is the result of watching 'how it is' in the world. Small decisions, deliberate decisions, each day. Moving steadily in an upwards direction, no matter where you're starting from.

The packaging did not appeal -- nor did quite a few of the ideas. But the core idea stuck. And it's been worth the listen for that.

1 comment:

kathmcg said...

One of the best things about life is the more decisions you make the older you get. Hopefully you make less bad decisions the older you get. You need time to make lots of decisions and each one of those is our imprint on the world.