The Power Law principle and “Slight Edge” thinking

I’m very selective when it comes to recommending books. But I think you should definitely check out The Sight Edge by Jeff Olson.

The essential point of the book is that if we were to view the sum total of a person’s life choices – be they related to health, finances, or relationships – we wouldn’t see a pattern of linear progression or regression. Instead, we would see very marginal change at the front end followed by a rapid acceleration in either a positive or negative direction:

In other words, your choices and actions compound over time in either a healthy (positive) or unhealthy (negative) direction – but you probably won’t notice these effects until the last 20% of the time horizon when they develop quite suddenly.

Let’s take diabetes and coronary artery disease, for example. One or two greasy burgers and sodas today won’t make you immediately insulin resistant. And one week of heavy endurance training – along with the accompanying stress response and systemic inflammation – won’t necessitate an arterial stent tomorrow. In fact, you probably won’t even notice any of the negative effects of these behaviors for months or even years.

But these small daily decisions, as they compounded over time, will accelerate at the “back end” and rapidly propel you in either a healthy or unhealthy direction.

The key is, at every moment, you are either going uphill or downhill – you just may not be seeing the effects of your choices and actions. And if you don’t believe me, listen to Jack as he talks about the consequences of “disobeying Nature’s law”:

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