Whether we like it or not, racism, sexism, and homophobia all still exist. Like you, I’m blown away that it’s 2020, and these types of biases and stereotypes still exist. I’m a fat, half-black recovering drug addict, and I know there are some opportunities I don’t get to enjoy despite my hard work and effort. Fortunately, that’s never stopped me from pushing forward, but it still weighs down on my mind every now and then.
Something I do for inspiration is to look for people who have overcome adversity because it gives me hope that I can do the same. Although I love analyzing people and how they accomplished what they did, it’d be a lot easier if there was some formula.
Luckily, Harvard Business School professor Laura Huang did just that in her new book Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage.
I had never heard of Laura, but the algorithms of today do a great job of recommending books to me. I can’t remember where I saw it, but Edge was recommended to me somewhere, and it was compared to the work of Adam Grant. I then took some time to check out Laura’s Twitter to learn about this book, and I was instantly sold. I picked up a copy and finished it in a day.
My brief synopsis of this book won’t come near to doing it justice.
Whenever I pick up a book like Edge, my biggest fear is that it’s going to fill me up with a bunch of excuses. In current times, it’s not hard to find articles, books, and YouTube videos discussing how unfair that all of these forms of oppression exist.
As an Asian American woman who faced adversity her whole life, Huang empathizes with this reality in a fantastic way. Rather than solely discussing the problem, her book is dedicated to teaching you how to gain an “edge” in this crazy world.
Laura Huang does a great job being brutally honest by telling the reader, “Yes, sometimes your hard work isn’t going to get you where you need to go.” But at the same time, the underlying message is, “That’s not an excuse to give up.”
I actually bought the audiobook format of this Edge, which was narrated by the author. It may seem like Huang has a tough-love approach, but you can really hear in her voice that she’s filled with compassion for others and has a passion to help people succeed.
The book is filled with anecdotes as well as stories of plenty of people who have used various principles to overcome adversity. I’m a huge psychology nerd, so I loved how many psychological studies she included throughout the book.
As I mentioned earlier, Laura Huang has created a formula, which she calls principles, that will help you gain an edge.
- Hard work should speak for itself, but it doesn’t.
2. It’s not about giving it your all. Your basic goods help you get it all.
3. To use your basic goods in distinct ways, go where others don’t.
4. Embrace constraints. Constraints provide opportunities.
5. Your powers of discernment come from trusting your intuitions and your experiences.
6: Before people will let you in, they need to be delighted.
7. Don’t over plan. Instead, aim for flexibility and opportunities to delight.
8. Stay authentic, and embrace how delight occurs insitu.
9. Being yourself entails guiding others to all the glorious versions of yourself.
10. Know how others see you, so you can redirect them to how they should see you.
11. Guide others to what is within you by recognizing what is around you.
12. It’s not where you’ve been; it’s where you’re going. Guide how others see your trajectory.
Overall, my favorite principle was the final one. I often minimize everything I’ve been through because I don’t think I’m all that special. I’m the son of an alcoholic mom who became an addict myself, but now with over seven years clean, I’ve accomplished quite a bit. I fail to sell people on the fact that despite some of my flaws and the challenges I’ve faced my whole life, I’m someone who works harder than most and never gives up.
Finally, I need to talk about the conclusion of this book. I read anywhere from ten to twenty non-fiction books a month, and Edge had one of the most powerful endings I’ve ever heard. It’s impossible to finish this book without believing that regardless of your circumstances, you have the power to succeed in a world that keeps trying to knock you off your path.