What is the Slight Edge Philosophy? By Louise Blenkinsop

Ping ping ping ping! Monday morning emails. You are all refreshed from your weekend off, and that noise instantly puts you in a state of annoyance. Pass me the coffee!

A wise man called Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”. But how do we break our not-so excellent habits in the workplace to truly become greater?

Let me introduce you to the slight edge philosophy.

Have you ever wanted to make a huge upheaval in the hope that it will make your work day more enjoyable? Are you stressed before 10am? Is the thought of your workload sending you into a cold sweat?

Many people feel strain in the workplace, and have a desire to just throw it all up in the air to wipe the slate clean and start over.

Major change can be exhaustive, take a huge amount of time, and be hard to control and manage. Yes, the goal of changing things for the better is there – but you may not even reach it if the work to get there is insurmountable.

Think about this: if you could change 100 small things by 1%, you’d have a 100% improvement. This is the slight edge.

There are many small things you could change in your daily routine that ultimately will leave you feeling less stressed at the end of a work week. A good place to start would be to address your self-talk.

Think of your mind as being your own personal warehouse, with a little man running about collecting boxes for you when you request some information or thought. You are in control of this man – you can direct him to the right part of the warehouse to find the right box for you. With the right talk!

There is a cycle between your self talk, self image, actions and behaviours, and results. If you change your starting point to something more positive (“I can’t do that… But I’ll ask someone else and find out”) this will have a more positive outcome. Straight away you have opened the door onto the next phase. You have avoided absolutes like always and never.

Affirmative action is productive, rationalisation is destructive.  You can make your behaviours and actions more positive by simply creating a more open self talk, and in turn your self-image will be empowered by the greater results that will be achieved.  It’s a winning formula.

You could try thinking “It’s like me to hit my goals”, “I’m getting more organised every day” or “I like pressure, it brings out the best in me”. 

Once the self-talk has been cracked, move onto your daily tasks. Learn to schedule – use your Outlook calendar to map out your daily tasks. Allow time for reactive work. Include breaks. Include planning time. Create a half hour twice a day to read and respond to emails. Don’t deviate if you can.

Do you have to copy in all those people to an email thread? An email with an action point should be scheduled with a reflection date to assess the outcome. Are you hangry (a cross between hungry and angry!) by 10:30am? Set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier and eat breakfast.

Take the time to explain these changes to your teams, if everyone takes ownership for a small change themselves that is even more success and improvement!

And hopefully the dreaded Monday morning ping will be a thing of the past!