Leadership Notes #65 – The Slight Edge

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

One area that I have tried to avoid are works that are more “success” works, as I wanted to stay within the topic of leadership. Works that do tie in to leadership, but cross over into the “success” realm real are ok, as there is some overlap. To be a better leader, we need to work on a variety of skills that will help us in that, and many of these skills are those that success works also emphasis: goal-setting, time management, self-motivation, and the like.

An interesting work in the area is “The Slight Edge” (2005, 2011). http://www.slightedge.org/

Now, one reason that concept interests me is that I found an interesting book using the idea, but aimed at teens. This work, “Success for Teens” is FREE for non-profit youth groups from http://www.successfoundation.org, also included facilitator guide and DVD. Since the BSA is one of the resource groups they list, I would think this means that Venturing Crews could obtain these books for their youth.

“Success for Teens” is a good read for teens. Stories are given from real teens. Further, each chapter ends with a section with discussion questions.

The Slight Edge philosophy is basically that following simple disciplines, one can be successful. These simple disciplines are the “slight edge” that bumps you over into success instead of failure. In “The Slight Edge” they have 7 principles (“Success for Teens” puts them forth as 8 principles, with different wording).

These 7 principles are:
• Show Up
• Be Consistent
• Have a Good Attitude
• Be Committee for a Long Period of Time
• Have Faith and a Burning Desire
• Be Willing to Pay the Price
• Have Integrity

Again, these principles are ones that any leader should follow. Let’s take a closer look at them.

“Show Up”. It means what it says. When you a student, show up for class. All of them. Show up for work. Show up for the meetings of your organizations. If you are in an exercise program, show up. I can say that as a leader, I have noticed that often times it’s the people who SHOW UP are the ones that others start to look to for leadership. Because I have found it ties into the next principle.

“Be Consistent”. So if you show up, show up CONSITENTLY. Again, I have found that those who show up ALL the time. Not just when it was convenient, but when it wasn’t, were who others gravitated to. And I have to admit, that often times when the leadership is looking for someone to take on a task (chair something), they will often look to the people who SHOW UP and do so CONSITENTLY.

“Have a Good Attitude”. Having a good attitude is important, especially when things don’t go right. (and at times they won’t). Too often we give up, but having a good, positive attitude (and it can’t be faked) is important. Part of this is to avoid what “The Slight Edge” calls `cuckoos’: the negative nellies who bring us all down. Don’t confuse people who give honest and sometimes hard hitting criticism. There is a difference.

“Be Committed for a Long Period of Time”. Success in anything does not come overnight. If you are working to improve yourself, if you are working to make something happen, be in it for the long haul. Some tasks we take on will take weeks. Some months. Some years. Accept it.

“Have Faith and Burning Desire”. As leaders, if you see an obstacle, how do you view it? As something to prevent you from achieving your goal, or something to overcome so that you can? You need faith that you can do so, and a burning desire (your vision, your goal, your mission) to drive you to achieve.

“Be Willing to Pay the Price”. There is always a price to pay, but you need to be willing to do so to achieve your goal. This price may be in time spent, opportunities missed, or just hard work, because the goal you are trying to achieve is that important.

“Have integrity”. This can be tough for people. In this instance, `integrity’ is what you do when no one is watching. Too many people will only do what needs to be done when someone is there to make sure they do it. Do you have the integrity to do it when they aren’t around?

So those are the Slight Edge principles. As noted, the “Success for Teens” work had them worded differently:
• Little Things Matter
• Attitude is Everything
• You Must Use the Moment
• Everything Starts with Small Steps
• There’s No Such Thing as Failure
• Habits are Powerful
• You’re Always Learning
• You Can Make your Dreams Come True

As noted, non-profit groups (like scout units), can get the “Success for Teens” books for free. So check them out.