Success for Teens

Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge

In the fall of ’07, at the request of the Success Foundation, I sat down with The Slight Edge manuscript and began completely “reimagining” it as raw material for a brand new book for teens. I adapted some passages, threw others out, wrote some brand new stuff, rearranged the ideas and codified a new set of core principles (I blogged a bit about this process here) … and eventually turned over a manuscript to Success Foundation staff.

At that point my work in turn became raw material for the immensely talented Al Desetta, who further adapted Jeff Olson’s and my stuff to make it more teen-accessible, and also brought together dozens of stories, vignettes, and examples from the lives of real teens (along with the help of Keith Hefner and staff at Youth Communication in New York) that bring the text alive and really make the book what it is.

There’s so much new material in here, it’s essentially a brand new book.

And here is the most interesting thing about it: with over a million copies in print, you know how many have actually sold? None. Zero. You can’t buy it. Nobody can. The book was written and produced as part of the Success Foundation’s commitment to their mission to give teens the tools and resources to help them reach their full potential.

The book is available here as a PDF (click to open, or right-click to download).

Excerpt from Success for Teens

This book is about becoming the best possible person you can be. It’s about making the most of your talents and opportunities, dealing with problems in positive ways, no matter what life brings, and achieving success—however you define it.

We’ve talked to teens from around the country, to find out how they define success and what they’re doing to make their dreams come true. And the answers they gave all seemed to boil down to the same answer (or set of answers).

Teens have said that success in life not a question of how smart you are, how talented you are, or how lucky you are. It’s not about the family you come from, the neighborhood you grew up in, or the school you go to. It’s not about good looks or good luck.

There’s only one difference between teens that are on the path to success, and those who aren’t yet on the path.

That difference is called the slight edge and it boils down to three words.

Little things matter.

Or, to put it another way, you can create any life you want—but not all at once, and only by doing small, positive actions every day. These little things may not look like a big deal, but the teens in this book show how important they really are. By understanding your attitudes and the secret of time, you can achieve success in life, no matter how difficult it might seem. The slight edge is having faith that miracles do happen, if you know how to trust yourself and keep trying.

Keep in mind two important points as you read on.

• Only you can define what success means, and no one can do it for you. It’s what you most want to do, not what others tell you to do.

• Everyone has the ability to be successful. Maybe you think success comes only from doing incredibly difficult things—things you don’t think you’ll ever be able to do. But that’s simply not true.

The teens in this book talk about the many ways they’ve used the slight edge:

• They describe how they discovered what matters most in life, and how that’s influenced their decisions and choices.

• They will teach you new ways of thinking and acting that will help you to make wise choices, whether at home, with friends, in school, in choosing a career, or in using your talents to their fullest potential.

• They will show you how to deal with difficult obstacles and challenges and keep going, until you reach your goals.

• They will explain how you can be successful, however you define it.

Listen to what these teens have to say. Think about your own life as they tell their stories. After each story, ask yourself some questions. How are their experiences similar to yours? How are they different? How can you use what they’ve learned to improve your life? What new ideas or insights do you have? (If you want, there are places in the book where you can write down your thoughts and reactions.)

But most of all, use the advice these teens have to share—because, if you do, your life will start to change. Maybe not tomorrow or even the next day, but soon enough. Because when you understand the slight edge, time is on your side.

The slight edge philosophy comes down to this: you can create any life you want, no matter how difficult it may seem, but only by understanding how small, positive steps make a difference over time. The things you do every single day—things that don’t look like such a big deal or like they don’t even matter—do matter.

As you read ahead, here are the main points to remember:

Little Things Matter
The little things you do every day, whether positive or negative, will determine what kind of life you lead.

Attitude is Everything
Your actions are driven by what you most deeply believe about yourself and the world.

Use the Moment
You can create a better future by spending less time in the past and taking action in the present.

Everything Starts with Small Steps
Every success in life, large or small, starts and continues with small steps.

There’s No Such Thing as Failure
Success is built on failure, which helps you discover your strengths and creates unexpected opportunities.

Habits Are Powerful
Positive habits are powerful tools that can help you reach your full potential.

You’re Always Learning
There’s no standing still in life, you always have opportunities to learn something new.

Make Your Dreams Into Reality
By taking small, positive steps over time, your dreams can come true.

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