Did you know that September has been named Real Estate Safety Month? What plans do you have to promote awareness? Here at WWV Mag, we support the training efforts of our publisher, Christine Beckwith as created in her best selling book, Clear Boundaries along with the Safety Training Certification course she and co-author Jessica Peterson created for professionals in all fields. Check out the link in the Books section to grab your own copy. And reach out to Beckwith to schedule a live (or virtual) training for your team or organization!
In this issue, we also welcome an amazing Lifestyle Editor, Kerry Fitzgerald. No introduction is needed; we are all going to get to know Kerry well in the coming months as she shares fun and thought-provoking insights around earning an amazing lifestyle as a reward for doing business!
As a last comment about this issue, we proudly introduce the winners of the Women With Vision Award for 2020. It’s a months-long process between nomination and award and well worth the effort to see the scope of experience and purposeful strength evident in the winners! Be sure to subscribe, if you have not already, to the WWV Mag. You will want to be the first to catch the November issue where we will focus almost entirely on these amazing women, honoring them fully and learning more of their stories.
Enjoy the read. Be sure to subscribe and share! Happy viewing and reading. And remember we’re still open to adding freelance writers to our staff, both for occasional and regular features.
It’s been a truly remarkable summer. During this historical moment we are all living in, we have continued to coach some of the most elite professionals in the mortgage and real estate space. The challenges presented by the pandemic and the economic climate has become the perfect storm for professionals needing positive re-enforcement and keen guidance for their businesses. In this magazine, we continue to provide a positive mantra making me, personally, tremendously proud.
In this issue, we highlight in our cover story one of our best and brightest students and coaches, Dixie Sanders. We’re also publicly announcing the names of our Women With Vision Award winners for 2020. In this list, you will find the finest leading women in our industry.
I am proud to mention in this issue you will also read features and articles from our coaches, watch videos from our students, and listen to my podcast with Jason Frazier. More and more industry women leaders are stepping up to be heard and seen in this magazine.
I am especially delighted to introduce readers to my best friend and 2019/2020 Women With Vision winner, Kerry Fitzpatrick. Kerry is taking the reins of our Lifestyle section and I predict you will be wowed!
We hope you will tell others about the incredible content in our magazine and invite people to subscribe for free. We are tremendously proud of the body of work we are putting out into a universe in desperate need of more positivity. I am proud of my team, what we stand for, and how we can play a part in effecting change in our professionals’ lives and businesses.
Here’s to enduring, thriving, and balancing the lives and times we find ourselves in now. I hope as summer gives way to fall you find yourselves living your best lives.
Written by: Christine Beckwith
Texans are fond of saying everything coming from Texas is big. Dixie Sanders is the epitome of the opposite. Physically, she is a petit woman, delicate in appearance and chock-full of southern charm. Her personality, on the other hand, is the size of Texas itself and she is without exception going to shoot straight with you.
Dixie Sanders is a professional with swagger. Since she started her professional story in our field, she has focused on mastering and assessing, accumulating knowledge and experience to build her originations team to where it is today.
Dixie is the type of person who leaves an impression. When our paths crossed, I knew of her by reputation from having been affiliated with another coaching firm. She let me know right away the reason she sought out our firm was to learn more. Unexpectedly and to my delight, I found myself having a conversation with a woman I could have easily talked with for hours. She and I are cut from similar cloth. We enjoy laughing and engaging with people while also stepping back and observing, continually seeking more knowledge and broader experience.
Dixie, even after having achieved what many might call the height of success, continues to be on a mission in life; she knows what she wants, and she knows she wants to be aligned with people who push her. People who are excellent, like Dixie, want to find greater excellence. People like Dixie are ramped in our field and like the pro athlete who needs to hone her skill, Dixie knows iron sharpens iron.
Even though our first conversation was short, it was impactful and gave rise to a new partnership. Her insertion into our company world has been a blessing of many measures. As a coach with 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching (VSC), Dixie shares her excellent experience and sets the bar for other professionals in our firm who want to learn how she has achieved success. Dixie’s strength is her accountability. What impresses me the most is how she consistently puts in the work. She shows up every day to work on her business and herself while continuing to seek knowledge from others to improve what she offers.
She is a professional who garners the highest respect in our industry. Those who know her history, acknowledge the long path taken to where she is today and do not doubt she has earned and deserved every accolade and accomplishment along the way.
Everyone has a ‘how I started’ story. Dixie laughs about how she landed her first job in Austin, Texas, explaining it was one of those serendipity moments. Dixie started in 1983 working at a bank in the mortgage department as a receptionist and assistant in upstate New York. The company hired a new manager who had recently moved from Austin. Shortly after, Dixie’s husband was transferred to Austin. The manager was kind enough to reach out to her connections, and Dixie was employed within a week of moving to Austin.
With no choice but to find her own footing in a new job and in a new place, Dixie was, as she says in her Texan terms, “…thrown right into the frying pan to learn.”
Dixie says she fell in love with the mortgage business in those early days, spawning a professional love affair time and experience has only strengthened and deepened. In 1988, Dixie chose to move closer to family and relocated to DC only to return to Texas in 1990, choosing Houston where she continued to lay the tracks of her road toward mortgage originations, finding a job in operations and learning the business of processing, closing, and post-closing until moving into sales as a loan originator in 1993.
TIPS FROM A WISE PRO
Today, Dixie is an icon in our industry. She has built a thriving business, and she runs it with integrity while producing incredible results. She is a vast and experienced database marketer. Under the direction of her seasoned leadership, both clients and her team thrive. Her clients are loyal and her relationships are deep. She is seen by others as a guidance counselor for their businesses.
“Knowledge: Seek it! I have been coaching for nearly 20 years. I believe in learning and continuously evolving. Develop the mindset of a pro athlete and work on your special skills to keep them sharp.”
“Integrity: Operate from an honest and principle-based place! It matters and people know the difference.”
“Passion: Work with Passion. There’s nobody who can accuse me of being less than passionate. You have to bring it every day and mix in a lot of passion. This is what drives you. This is what is attractive to people all around you.”
When asked to share her top three marketing tips, she gave these:
“Work with people you like! There are so many people we can choose to have in our referral base network; choose the ones you like. It will make your job easy and enjoyable.”
“Be in relationships. Sales is about bonding. Treat each transaction like a relationship you are developing.”
“Talk their language and add value. Listen and hear the language your client speaks and speak to them the way they want and need to be spoken to, based on their directive. Make sure when you are speaking, you are adding value.”
COACHING AS A CORE ACTIVITY
Being a coach and being coached are core principles for Dixie when it comes to business and life. “Having someone on the outside looking in is critical,” she says. “Most of the time we cannot see the forest through the trees and that is what a coach will do for you. Accountability pushes us to a new level. I have been coached since 2003.”
For more than a decade, Dixie took part in Rick Ruby’s The CORE program, both as a coach and being coached. She believes in coaching because it works, describing her own results saying, “I learned from coaching to work smarter and develop the skills to make that happen. I learned to use tools that allow me to watch the numbers, both in business and at home. Maybe the most important lesson I learned from coaching is how to build and maintain a team.”
FROM THE CATSKILLS TO THE LOW HILLS OF AUSTIN
Dixie grew up in upstate New York. Typical of her dry sense of humor, she describes this as, “kind of ironic since my birth name is Dixie.” Her dad was a fifth-grade teacher and her mom babysat the teachers’ kids. Her parents both had incredibly strong work ethic, which she obviously inherited.
Dixie acknowledges growing up and attending classes in the same school where her dad taught was not the best situation, saying, “Trust me. I did not want to get in trouble at school.” The town where she grew up was a farm community. In 1983, she married a high school sweetheart and the world she knew disappeared. Regrettably, the relationship would dissolve in 1990. It was then, Dixie moved to Houston, TX where she met Tracy Sanders who became her husband of 28 years and counting.
When I asked Dixie how she met her life-long partner she said, “I had a bad back and had just moved to Texas. As I was driving to work, the radio came on saying if you need a doctor call 1 800 doctor finder. Since I needed a chiropractor, I decided to call. I was given a choice between two different doctors. One was in his 50s and one in his 30s, so I went younger. I went to the appointment and I met my husband. A few weeks after my appointment I called and asked him out. From that time forward the rest is history.
Early in our marriage, he was in another industry. He has always been my biggest cheerleader and supporter. Tracy is a kind soul and he eventually joined the mortgage business with me. Now we work together. He is the manager of our Sugar Land Mortgage Branch. He adds great value to our branch with his mentorship.
I never had children. Tracy had two daughters, and we decided we did not want them to feel replaced. The grandchildren they have given us have brought us great joy during this time in our lives.”
IN HER OWN WORDS
As Dixie reviewed this article prior to its publication, it sparked memories and a fresh understanding of the significance moving to Texas has had in her life. We love what flamed from the spark and share it with you here, as she remembers it.
“Did life offer me adversity or opportunity? Or maybe a better question is, can adversity create opportunity? To be living today in one of the fastest growing counties in Texas was unimaginable when I was child growing up in a town of less than 5,000 people. My hometown had a four-way stop, no traffic lights. We had one small grocery store, one pharmacy, one bank, and one gas station. Only one of each and all on a small scale. My clothes were sewn by mother. Jeans were not an option. I was a girl and I dressed like a girl. I was the teacher’s kid and one of the few who was excited to go back to school, but the last paycheck my dad received in June was pretty much spent when the time for new school clothes came around.
August was always the month of casseroles. Mom had to work hard to stretch the budget. My least favorite was tuna noodle; think about a bag of noodles, a can each of tuna and cream of mushroom soup, and voila, you have a meal for five.
To graduate with a class of less than 100 people and be the lucky one God moved from a poverty-stricken area to the growing, thriving community of Sugar Land, TX where I am today, is still amazing to me. I look at my first marriage as part of God’s plan. Neither of us would have the opportunities we have been given had we not married and taken the leap of faith to move to Texas, sight unseen. Obviously, we grew as individuals by leaving our small town and moving to the big city.
The mortgage business in Austin was quite different than where I started in Upstate New York. My move to Texas brought so much to myself and to my parents. Until then, none of us had ever flown on an airplane. I’m grateful for having made it possible for my parents to enjoy spending the winters with us, away from the cold.
My grandmother was a role model for me, even before I understood what that phrase meant. My sweet husband affectionally calls me by her name, Aileen, when I become hardheaded or cheap. She lived to be 101.5 years old so, look out, World! I have a lot left in me. Her husband, my grandfather who was known as PA to me, lost his eyesight in his early 30s. My grandparents had to figure out how to provide for their family, given the challenges of my grandfather’s blindness. My grandmother could save five pennies if you gave her one. She overcame incredible odds to provide for her family. I am proud to be affectionally called Aileen by my husband.
After her passing, I moved my mom, an only child, to Texas. She packed up her life, putting it into 102 boxes all by herself. I flew to NY and we watched the truck being loaded together. We said a few goodbyes and boarded a plane to Texas where she pretty much unpacked all 102 boxes by herself. At the age of 79, she left her life of 50 plus years in the same community to start fresh. She learned to Uber, joined community activities, and joined a church.
Real adversity is not being able to change or control circumstances. One of the hardest moments in my life was receiving the phone call about my nephew, telling me about his motorcycle accident. He would have been 30 in three weeks and did not make it to that milestone birthday. That my friend, is adversity. No going back, no rerun, no last chance, just done. As hard as it was for me, I can’t imagine what my brother endured in losing a son, I admire my brother’s strength to go forward from devastation.
I am known for telling my employees, don’t come to me with a complaint or problem without offering a solution. Complaining does not do anything. Frustration for me comes from not being able to execute solutions.
Early in my career, a boss told me, “There is little in the mortgage business that cannot be fixed. Action with mistakes is better than no action.”
I think he may have regretted the statement when, a few days later, a dear friend and colleague told him we backed into the pole in the garage with the company car. He was right, though. We took action and it was fixed.
I left being an operations manager for a high producing loan officer in 1993 in Houston to go into sales. I opened a branch in Sugar Land for Countrywide Home Loans and created my own world and my own book of business. I took nothing from him, none of his referral sources, just a few well-learned lessons of what to do and what not to do. That was the start of my origination business.
I love to grow individuals in this business because of what it has given me. I have hired many young people, giving them their first job, and had the opportunity to help them learn the business I love. It’s always special to watch them go on to create their own business. It is also disappointing when they leave, but they must grow. The only regret I have is for any who might have missed the lesson on how to create your own world: Do not take from those who help you.
The best advice I can give is to make your own way. Do not go after the referral sources or anything else belonging to the people who helped you. I guess there’s a piece of human nature in play here covered by the Golden Rule, but I stand proud. I did not take from my mentors and I have a thriving business.”
LEADING THE PACK
Today Dixie operates and originates a branch doing tens of millions of dollars in originations monthly. She is far atop her mountain range, still abiding by the same set of rules for herself to maintain this excellence. Proudly partnered with Homebridge, she wakes daily to serve her partnerships, to lead her team, and to perform with the same work ethic her parents taught her.
She coaches others and works on her own business with me and other coaches here at 20/20 VSC. She has served and continues to serve with the same advice she gives mortgage professionals seeking knowledge, with integrity and with passion.
As far as hobbies go, she loves to travel and to hang out at her lake house. Spending time with her grandchildren is a priority and it brings her and her husband great personal joy.
She loves to shop and loves watching great television, and of late she’s hooked on Yellowstone. She dedicates time and money to veterans charities and takes part in an annual charity for Child Advocates of Fort Bend.
During the time we have spent with Dixie, she has risen out of the pack and is a clear standout. Her voice is strong, her quips hilarious, and her swagger ever so appealing. The room lights up when Dixie walks into it.
On a personal note, I am grateful for our paths crossing. She is one of my favorites among the people I have been working with in recent years. I gain as much from her as I hope we give to her. She is now an embedded part of our community, and I see a future where Dixie is a director of our Women With Vision division helping us spread our word of success and hope for generations to come.
We will continue to stoke the fire burning inside of Dixie Sanders and watch the beautiful ever blooming story unfold. We look forward to walking down this road together. We have, in fact, dived into the deep end with Dixie and love the fantastic journey we are all on.
To connect and follow Dixie please email her or call her at: email@example.com Cell is (281) 222-9209
This prestigious industry award is granted to women professionals in the mortgage space who are nominated and judged eligible. These women exemplify a forward vision of leadership and growth. Join us in congratulating these trendsetting, visionary leaders who we honor as this year’s winners. Well done, women!
Written by 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching Staff Writer
Velocity. Speed. Acceleration. These words mean the same thing, right? Not entirely so. Most people, when asked to define velocity, usually come back with speed, which is partly true. Velocity is related to speed. A constant velocity is described as traveling in a straight line at the same speed.
An example of speed might be driving, measured by miles per hour (mph). Velocity incorporates speed and adds in distance. The speed of a car can be described as driving 65 miles per hour. The velocity of the car adds in the direction: the car is moving 65 mph in a southwest direction. Distance over time is velocity.
The key to understanding how this relates to your career or business lies in how the change of direction impacts velocity. A constant velocity travels in a straight line. Career velocity requires acceleration to build to success. After all, a career always staying on the same, level track is stuck in a rut, don’t you think? Acceleration happens to velocity when the movement changes direction.
What direction is your career headed and how fast is it going? Do you wait for life to happen to you, or do you take an active part and plan where you want to go? Admittedly, neither choice is wrong. One is, however, more desirable, and more likely to result in accelerated velocity in one’s career. Perhaps this is a more telling question: is your career velocity on a track you desire?
In physics, velocity is defined as speed with direction. Your career development can be looked at in the same way. When it comes to sparking a productive and effective career velocity, direction is more important than speed. Think for a moment about the burst of refinance work eclipsing the mortgage world in the wake of Covid-19 and the Fed’s action to drop interest rates. During this time, speed is the only focus. As a result, career velocity for many, both in and out of the refi side of mortgage, has slowed. Oh, everyone is busy, busy, busy. However, busy does not equate to being productive.
In today’s mortgage world, the opportunities for success are high. The direction of our careers and their speed, our career velocities, can be influenced and controlled once we understand the interaction of direction and speed. This is where planning comes into play.
Planning begins by looking at the current situation, and, here come more questions to ask yourself:
- What direction is your career headed and how fast is it going?
- Is your career headed in the direction you want?
- How pleased are you with how fast your career is developing?
Make sure you know where you want to go with your career. Visualize the growth you want and put it into your business plan! Yes, you must have a plan. A career built on luck is just as likely to implode as explode. A career built on a plan is highly likely to develop consistently following a path of accelerated velocity. Your plan will provide the steps needed to guide you along the path and the tools to measure and redirect your efforts to ensure success.
Here are a few strategies to keep in mind as you create your career velocity plan:
- Be a Strategic Thinker and Act on Those Strategies. This matters simply because the work you do matters to you and to your organization. Incorporate company goals and objectives into your own in strategic ways to ensure optimum velocity acceleration building on the efforts of the whole team.
- Learn, Learn, Learn. Say yes to opportunities to observe others in action and add takeaways fitting your plan into your work habits.
- Be Present and Focused. Being present ensures you engage effectively with clients and coworkers. Being focused ensures you are following the plan!
- Manage Your Time. For many, this is the number one challenge and the one aspect we are not likely to control effectively. Understand that you DO have choices when it comes to time. Think of time as money because time is money. Once spent, you cannot recover it, so spend it wisely and learn to manage it! Mastering this one strategy can provide a huge jump in velocity acceleration.
Your career will be, at best, exactly what you have today unless you choose to take action to move outside your current work process and consciously change direction. Nobody can control all change in life. External forces will impact any plan. Seek out opportunities to take charge of what you can control.
Speed is the easy part of this equation when it comes to career. The few possibilities listed below could speed up a career:
- Changing jobs or fields within the industry
- Becoming certified or trained
- Accomplishing major goals at work
- Adding responsibilities
Your career might move at the speed you want, but is the velocity the direction you want? How does velocity change your possibilities? The possibilities above are generic and without direction, they can simply happen or not. By defining the possibility and connecting a goal and the steps to achieve the goal to the possibility, you apply direction and change speed into velocity. Instead of being on track to make vice president, take the steps to do what you can to make it happen. If your goal is to close $1 million this year, identify how you will accomplish it. Will you take on new partners? Will you move to another company? Will you become a vice president or manager? Fill in your own tasks and attach real goals to them. Then step into your newly defined career velocity and accelerate toward your goal!
Written by: Michael Chapman
An intuitive interviewer can often elicit deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking responses from the persons being interviewed. Christine Beckwith is such an interviewer. Recently, she hosted a FaceBook LIVE event to celebrate the ‘graduation’ of three coaching students from the core coaching program into the Vision Masters program. Enjoy this recording and learn more about women and men who value learning and growing both professionally and personally.
For additional excerpted clips, check out the Soundbites playlist on Christine Beckwith’s YouTube channel.
Mortgage X Podcast
On this special episode of the Mortgage X Podcast, MBA COO Marcia Davies talks about her incredible mortgage journey from Freddie Mac, to HUD, to the MBA and the founding of mPower. Davies is the founder of mPower (MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach), a networking platform for women in the real estate finance industry. Marcia Davies is the chief operating officer for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), where she ensures cross-organizational alignment, implements strategic initiatives, and oversees key priorities.
Vonk Digital, an industry leader in website and marketing tools for mortgage originators across America, is a proud sponsor and hosting partner of Women With Vision Magazine.
To learn how Vonk Digital can help you leverage the ‘New Way’ to build your brand, authority, and credibility with our website platform and tools. Visit us at www.vonkdigital.com
20/20 Vision For Success Coaching
The words 20/20 Vision for Success are not in the name of this company by accident. Coaching is about building a foundation for results and knowing how to step into action based on that foundation. Turning vision into reality requires trust that the bedrock beneath the vision is sound. Coaching with 20/20 Vision begins by building and strengthening your foundation and ensures that, as coaching progresses, you and the 20/20 team behind you remain focused on the vision for success.
20/20 Vision for Success Coaching opened several private coaching webinars to the public. Register for one or all!
REGISTER September 10, 2020
Nicholas Eremita, GRIT: When It Matters Most
REGISTER September 8, 2020, 1 pm eastern
Chasity Graff, Leveraging Social for Mortgage Money
Women With Vision Webinar:
REGISTER September 8, 2020, 11 am eastern
Leora Ruzin, Leading with Love: Is It Possible?
Books are a big part of our world here at WWV Mag. And we love it when readers want to share their take on a book. Enjoy this review of a classic book that is as relevant today as ever. -Editor
An Executive Summary Written by Ray Befus
I’m a reader. No matter who you are, what your circumstance may be, or what goals you are pursuing, I can probably recommend an exceptional book specific to your need or interest. But this is one book I can recommend to everyone no matter what they are pursuing or what they are up against. The Slight Edge chronicles the author’s journey through life, his discoveries through seasons of personal confusion and clarity, failure and success, life-transforming decisions, and inspiring leadership. This is a book about foundation building for a life of prosperity in every field of endeavor.
The author’s humility and candor make the book unusually interesting and frequently compelling. As you read through the chapters, you’ll begin to feel you are engaged in meaningful conversation with a mature friend, perhaps a sage, who is offering timeless wisdom for a life that works: health supporting a confident, active lifestyle; deeply satisfying relationships; disciplines you can take to work to establish financial freedom and prosperity; and an outlook on life to shape a personal legacy impacting several grateful generations.
The Slight Edge is not a “self-help book.” It’s one of those motivational books you buy on a whim, skim through over-sized type, forget what you’ve read, and store on a shelf for a decade or two. Olson doesn’t offer any shortcuts, magic keys, or secret formulas. There are no gimmicks between the covers, just the simple principle Olson himself has lived: the slight edge. From a variety of different angles, he leads his readers on a careful examination of the many ways this one principle is always at work in our daily choices, either for good or for ill. It’s profound.
Each chapter ends with a helpful, short list of key insights drawn from the chapter. Olson also includes a letter or two from readers who have lived the slight edge and experienced personal, family, corporate, and financial transformation. Like Olson’s many personal stories and engaging illustrations, these letters from the frontlines stir faith and add hope to the mix of insights and life lessons in each chapter.
PART ONE—HOW THE SLIGHT EDGE WORKS
1. The Beach Bum and the Millionaire. In a delightful revelation, we discover the same man, the author, has lived both lives. It took a “day of disgust” and a “night of despair” for the beach bum to come to grips with his predicament and recognize if he did not get off the roller coaster taking him through countless ups and downs and cycles of survival, he might never step onto a path that could lead to success. Olson chronicles the beginning of his journey of discovery, noticing the same simple daily disciplines, success habits, when applied consistently, helped him overcome failure and survive and could eventually take him all the way from survival to success. Olson lets us know in this first chapter he’s not just inviting us to join him in a journey to financial prosperity.
“When I say millionaire I mean someone with a million-dollar smile, with a million friends, with a million dollars’ worth…of joy, love, contentment, fulfillment, great relationships, curiosity and fascination, passion and enthusiasm, excitement and accomplishment…a fortune’s worth of life in their life. I want that life for you” (p. 11).
2. The First Ingredient. Olson adds his voice to many wise counselors who advise us if we want to experience different results in our lives, we need to dig deep, all the way down to our deepest beliefs about ourselves, others, and how life works. The results we are experiencing in any category of life flow out of our actions which are motivated by our emotions and attitudes, which have their roots in our deepest beliefs or, as Olson describes it, our personal philosophy. “Your philosophy is what you know, how you hold what you know, and how it affects what you do” (p. 21). Olson invites us to join him in the patient process of redirecting our lives by exploring our deepest beliefs (some of which may be self-limiting or even self-destructive) and developing a philosophy of personal responsibility expressed in the many simple, daily choices making up the slight edge.
3. The Choice. “The single most important thing I can tell you about the slight edge is this: it’s already working, right now, either for you or against you” (p. 37). Our simple, daily decisions related to our heath, our relationships, our finances, our legacy are all adding up, slowly but surely, in the manner of compound interest. Our simple daily choices, repeated consistently over time, may seem unimportant, harmless, or without much value in any given moment. But, like pennies invested and compounded over time, our simple errors in judgment (repeated daily) are leading us toward eventual, massive failure. And conversely, our simple, wise, productive decisions (repeated consistently) are leading us toward eventual, unprecedented success. The Slight Edge begins with this awareness: “the things you do every single day, the things that don’t look dramatic, that don’t even look like they matter, do matter. …they not only make a difference, they make all the difference” (p. 41). This is your philosophy for success!
4. Master the Mundane. Olson sobers his readers with this claim: only one in 20 adults move beyond surviving to thriving and succeeding. Only 5 percent of the men and women who set inspiring goals reach them. The difference, Olson is convinced, is the 5 percent understand the slight edge principle, know how to use it, and put it to work, day in and day out. “They do the thing and gain the power” (p. 51). “If you learn to understand and apply the slight edge, your life will become filled with hundreds of thousands of small, seemingly insignificant actions; all of them genuinely simple, none of them mysterious or complex. In other words, you have to master the mundane” (p. 52). If they are so easy to do, Olson asks, why doesn’t everyone live the slight edge and fill their days with consistent, productive choices? (1) The small, simple things are both easy to do and easy not to do. (2) The immediate results of our daily decisions are most often invisible to our eyes. And (3), the simple daily choices really do seem insignificant. The difference, in the moment, between choices leading to success and choices leading to loss is rarely dramatic.
5. Slow Down to Go Fast. “Success takes time, yes, more time than most people are willing to wait” (p. 75). Olson understands our culture of technological acceleration, media-inspired instant gratification, and fast food served our way, tempts us to fall for get-rich-quick fantasies. Like farming, living the slight edge can seem slow and even boring. There is little drama and there are few crises. Days are made up of planting and cultivating and waiting for time to bring about a harvest. And this is a key insight: time is on the side of women and men who are patiently, consistently, persistently working the slight edge. “Time is the force that magnifies those little, almost imperceptible, seemingly insignificant things you do every day into something titanic and unstoppable” (p. 65). Though none of us knows how long it may take before we harvest success in a given area of life, Olson writes, “In my experience, in three to five years you can put virtually anything in your life solidly on the right track” (p. 73).
6. Don’t Fall for Quantum Leap. This chapter is a warning to beware the hype surrounding the phrase Quantum Leap, as in, “If you take this simple step, if you are in the right place at the right time, or if Lady Luck shines on you, you’ll experience an easy, quantum leap into the realm of success.” Olson believes in dramatic breakthroughs, rapid advances, and quantum leaps. But the real thing, though it may be revealed in a moment, is almost always the result is a long season of hard work, patient preparation, steady investment, and consistent wise choices. “A real-life quantum leap is not Superman leaping a tall building. A real quantum leap is Edison perfecting the electric light bulb after a thousand patient efforts, and then transforming the world with it” (p. 86). “Once you absorb the slight edge way of being, you’ll stop looking for that quantum leap and start building it. You’ll stop looking for the miracle, and start being the miracle” (p. 89).
7. The Secret of Happiness. If the slight edge principle is the engine powering our journey toward success, Olson suggests happiness may be the fuel on which this engine runs. Drawing from the science or psychology of happiness, Olson writes that the common belief that success leads to happiness is not true. The truth is happy people are generally more successful in every category of life, from health and vitality, to relationships and community life, to financial freedom and prosperity. “Albert Schweitzer put it beautifully, ‘Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success’” (p. 99). Olson concludes by suggesting readers adopt several daily “happy habits” that have the power to lift our moods and have the ability to create the kind of attitudes or emotional shifts enabling us to put our slight-edge philosophy into meaningful action day by day.
8. The Ripple Effect. Olson gives this chapter to his daughter Amber, and Amber shares some thoughts from her mother Renee. All three, Jeff, Amber, and Renee Olson, give us insights into the wide-ranging impact of the slight edge as it ripples across generations within a family, through a community, or within an organization. Clearly, the slight edge is a philosophy and way of life that can transform culture, in a home or in a corporation. Amber highlights the responsibility that comes with success. Her dream is to introduce slight-edge thinking and living to members of younger generations, and through them, to change the world.
9. But You Have to Start with A Penny. Olson looks back to chapter three, the parable of the wise father and the penny, to tie up this section of the book. We don’t have to move mountains to step into slight-edge thinking, deciding, and living. But we do have to do something. “Success doesn’t come out of nowhere” (p. 128). Successful men and women start by making small, daily decisions, courageously and consistently, often doing what other people are unwilling to do. “Little things, things that might seem like they have no power at all [like a penny], can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes, they can even change the course of history. And I can tell you this for certain: they will change your history” (p. 134).
PART TWO—LIVING THE SLIGHT EDGE
With the principle of The Slight Edge explained and illustrated, Olson turns, in part two, to urge his readers to begin applying the slight edge in every category of daily life.
10. Two Life Paths. Olson revisits the sobering reality how only 5 percent of the people around us may reach their dreams and goals. Adding the interesting illustration that, eventually, everyone’s life will curve upward toward success or downward toward loss and failure, Olson writes we choose an upward curve when we (1) turn from the past to the future, (2) take responsibility for our daily decisions, and (3) base these decisions on our values or philosophy. We choose a downward curve when we go through life with a sense of entitlement and blaming people, the past, or circumstances, for our negative emotions and self-limiting attitudes and self-destructive daily choices. Despite the stark realities presented, Olson consistently inspires hope. No matter where we are, we can choose to step onto the path of success. As well, successes in one area of life contribute to success in every area of life. No one must live in the past!
11. Mastering the Slight Edge. What about the 95 percent who are not living the slight edge, who may not even believe success is possible for them or for you? Olson recognizes these people are sometimes critical and cynical and may even threaten a friend, family member, or co-worker who seeks to break away from the herd. Olson encourages childlike tenacity and the courage to do what others believe is too hard or even impossible. Drawing on Napoleon Hill’s insights related to powerful goal setting, Olson first urges readers to do the hard work of identifying their starting point (A) and defining their desired endpoint (B), but then he asks for more. He asks us to explore the emotional side of the gap between where we are and where we hope to be someday. If we will allow ourselves to feel the wanting, the longing, the dreaming for what we now lack but hope to embrace and enjoy someday, our deep emotions will empower slight-edge actions when the right decisions are difficult or even opposed by the people around us.
12. Invest in Yourself. Living the slight edge over a lifetime calls us to commit ourselves to continual learning, both through reading books (or watching/listening to recordings) and through life experience. “Continuous, lifelong learning is the material from which you continually build your philosophy and your understanding of how it plays out in real-life situations and circumstances, which is also critical in mastering the slight edge” (p. 176). Book smarts and street smarts develop together as we go through life, constantly measuring our daily decisions against our dreams and vision for our lives. As we give constant attention to how we’re thinking and what we’re thinking, we use our conscious brain function to align our unconscious thinking with reality and our slight-edge philosophy.
13. Learn from Mentors. Along with formal instruction (books and lectures) and lessons learned in real life, we all learn by following the example of mentors. Drawing from his own life-transforming experience with a mentor early in his journey, Olson challenges readers to begin looking around for mentors who are already using the skills we want to develop in living the life we hope to enjoy. However, discernment is essential. Hollywood heroes live fantasy lives and negative, short-sighted people will drain our resources and dull our vision if we give them undue time and influence over us. When we do find a man or woman who sees our potential, believes in our future, and offers us their help, we can do no better than to work with them and, if possible, a few others, in a mastermind group. Eventually, we ourselves may become life-giving mentors to others.
14. Use Your Slight Edge Allies. These strong allies aren’t people; they’re forces at work concentrating and sustaining our energy and efforts. The power of momentum: decisions and disciplines consistently adopted over time make maintaining our focus and pace easier. The power of completion: unfinished tasks and incomplete projects, even if we are unconscious of them much of the time, rob us of energy and dull our focus. Completing unfinished tasks and projects empowers us to leave the past behind and step into the future. The power of reflection: using a daily planning system or even a coach can help us maintain a high level of accountability for our daily, slight-edge actions. The power of celebration: celebration stirs our emotions and lifts our attitudes which, in turn, empower our actions. Take time to celebrate small successes as well as significant breakthroughs.
15. Cultivate Slight-Edge Habits. Many slight-edge choices and decisions can become life-giving habits compounding their value over time. Olson lists seven habits: (1) Show up, be present, invest. (2) Be consistent; show up every day. (3) Cultivate a consistently positive outlook. Look for possibilities and potential. (4) Be committed for the long haul, years for sure, in some cases, a lifetime. (5) Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith. Tap into the power of deep emotion. (6) Be willing to pay the price, to make the sacrifices necessary to reach your goals. (7) Practice slight-edge integrity when no one is looking.
16. Three Steps to Your Dreams. Olson argues for a simple planning system: (1) write down your vision and goals. Keep them simple but make them real. Add enough detail so your emotions are stirred when you read your descriptions. Make sure your goals have deadlines. (2) Revisit your vision and goals every day; keep them at the front of your mind, morning by morning. (3) Form a plan to move forward. Call your steps strategies or tactics, but make sure you start your journey and consistently take effective steps toward your endpoint. “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal” (p. 243). Expect to change your plan, tactics, or strategies as you move toward your goals and vision. The engine moving us forward toward our goals is our philosophy, not any one strategy or tactic.
17. Living the Slight Edge. As the book draws to a close, Olson pushes his readers for decisions and meaningful action. Slight Edge steps into the future. This chapter invites the reader to take time to write out a short vision statement, the beginning of a plan, and an initial daily discipline for each of the seven categories of life: health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career, and positive impact on the world. Take time with this chapter. Simple awareness and appreciation for the book’s content have little power to change the future. Do the hard work to make decisions and write down commitments to specific steps. Keep it simple but make it thoughtful.
18. Where to Go from Here. Along with doing one simple daily discipline in each one of these key areas, Olson recommends developing some means to establish consistent, daily accountability, whether with a personal planning system, a slight-edge buddy, a coach, or a mastermind group. Lastly, take the initiative to spend regular time with mentors, women and men, who have accomplished the kind of goals you are pursuing, who are living the life you are dreaming of living, and who can become your allies in the journey toward dreams come true.
19. A Personal Invitation. The Slight Edge is Jeff Olson’s story, his life. The book pulses with his heartbeat. These last pages feel like a friend’s heart-felt, closing wish for a successful and prosperous life.
The Slight Edge—Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness
Jeff Olson with John David Mann, SUCCESS, 2013 (8th Anniversary Edition)
Books by Christine Beckwith
Clear Boundaries: Every Business Woman’s Essential Safety Guide was born out of the shared experiences of Beckwith and co-author Jessica Peterson. Both are women professionals who have for many years traveled across the country for business. Sadly, both have firsthand knowledge of how dangerous it can be for a woman. In this book, the authors draw from their own experiences and call upon experts to present real, actionable, and practical advice to prepare anyone to avoid and survive what could be a dangerous scenario.
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