The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson is a self-development classic. If you want to learn how to get ahead of the pack, and always be moving on up without getting burnt out, this is for you. So if you’re an actor, this book is for you.
Just so you know, I’m not getting paid in any way for my book reviews. These are purely my own opinion and I only write about books that I think will truly benefit my readers.
This book will really ring true for those of you who are post-high school. If you’ve graduated from high school, you’ll know that life gets super hard to balance as you get older. You’ve got a job, maybe even two jobs, maybe uni or college, a social life, maybe some debt to pay off or maybe even kids. You are BUSY. Everyone’s busy.
The basic idea of The Slight Edge is that you need to ‘save a penny’ everyday in order to reap the benefits of compound interest. This seems obvious, but it’s contrary to what most people do. Most people either a) work super hard for something for a short period of time, like cramming for exams or crash dieting, or b) work consistently towards a goal and then drop it once they’ve achieved it, so they have to start from scratch again the next time they want to reach that goal. All of this results in a crazy stressful rollercoaster life, instead of a nice breezy stroll up a slightly inclining hill.
The concepts in this book are super relevant for actors because we’re always trying to balance heaps of things to get ahead. You’re trying to balance earning a living with having enough free time to go to auditions. You’re trying to find time to go to the gym, keep an eye on audition notices, maybe learn an accent or language, go to extra acting classes, schmooze with agents, directors and other actors, and write your own screenplay. Plus all the usual stuff that other humans do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and you might feel like something’s gotta give. Except it doesn’t, as The Slight Edge will explain. You can have it all! You just need to put that penny away. Every. Single. Day.
For an actor, applying the Slight Edge to your life might mean creating a rock-solid morning routine including a ten minute vocal warm up, ten minutes of creative writing and ten minutes of audition prep, plus a dynamite evening routine including a gym work out and sending three cold emails to new contact. Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to focus on skills development and strengthening my voice, so I looked at where I could fit in a vocal warm up, ten minutes French practice and ten minutes piano/singing practice. I realised I could find at least ten minutes every day while driving – so I do my vocal warm ups and listen to language-learning audiobooks in the car. If I’m not driving much, I sometimes just listen to my audiobooks in the shower or while cleaning my teeth! Mr Olson is so right – it’s easy to find ten minutes every day. Thank you Mr Olson.
In all seriousness though… I’ve talked in the past about how we can’t really have it all. I still stand by that, because quite honestly, no matter how much you’re Slight Edging your life, there’s only so many spare ten minutes you can find in each day. Not because there isn’t enough time, but because I think any sane person will start to go a little mad if they’re trying to fit so many things into their day. And you’ve got to really want it – I’ll be honest, I haven’t managed to keep up with my piano/singing practice. But hey, two out of three ain’t bad. I’ll get there eventually.
Generally I just wish I’d known about the concept of the Slight Edge when I was younger. Imagine all the things I could’ve Slight Edged in the last decade… I’d probably be an Olympian or Prima Ballerina by now… (Pretty sure that’s how it works, right?) In all seriousness though, it would have been super useful. I would know French by now, for one thing, instead of desperately trying to learn it 12 weeks before I have to travel. Eek!
I’d recommend having a read of this book to get a much more thorough idea of how The Slight Edge works and how it might work for you. If you’re still in high school, maybe try Success for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight Edge. I haven’t read this one (and I am slightly dubious of anything that has the words ‘real teens’ in the title, a bit like when comedians say, ‘true story’) so I can’t personally recommend it, but I believe Olson’s daughter was part of the team behind it, so it’s probably a fairly safe bet. These books are super cheap to get on Kindle as well, so why wouldn’t you? (If you don’t have a Kindle – did you know you can just get the Kindle app on your phone or tablet and read it that way?) Sold! Let me know what you think of the book once you’ve read it.