The Compound Effect
by Darren Hardy
- "The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices."
- Work hard
- Meticulously track what you want to improve
- Take 100% responsibility for your life
- Consistency is incredibly important
As my mentor, the great business philosopher Jim Rohn, said, “There are no new fundamentals. Truth is not new; it’s old. You’ve got to be a little suspicious of the guy who says, ‘Come over here, I want to show you my manufactured antiques!’ No, you can’t manufacture antiques.”
Before we dig in, I have one warning: Earning success is hard. The process is laborious, tedious, sometimes even boring. Becoming wealthy, influential, and world-class in your field is slow and arduous. Don’t get me wrong; you’ll see results in your life from following these steps almost immediately. But if you have an aversion to work, discipline, and commitment, you’re welcome to turn the TV back on and put your hope in the next infomercial—the one touting promises of overnight success, if you have access to a major credit card.
Here’s the bottom line: You already know all that you need to succeed. You don’t need to learn anything more. If all we needed was more information, everyone with an Internet connection would live in a mansion, have abs of steel, and be blissfully happy. New or more information is not what you need—a new plan of action is. It’s time to create new behaviors and habits that are oriented away from sabotage and toward success. It’s that simple.
The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. What’s most interesting about this process to me is that, even though the results are massive, the steps, in the moment, don’t feel significant. Whether you’re using this strategy for improving your health, relationships, finances, or anything else for that matter, the changes are so subtle, they’re almost imperceptible. These small changes offer little or no immediate result, no big win, no obvious I-told-you-so payoff. So why bother?
Most people get tripped up by the simplicity of the Compound Effect. For instance, they quit after the eighth day of running because they’re still overweight. Or, they stop practicing the piano after six months because they haven’t mastered anything other than “Chopsticks.” Or, they stop making contributions to their IRA after a few years because they could use the cash—and it doesn’t seem to be adding up to much anyway.
What they don’t realize is that these small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference
Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE
Real and lasting success requires work—and lots of it!
Understanding the Compound Effect will rid you of “insta-results” expectation—the belief success should be as fast as your fast food, your one-hour glasses, your thirty-minute photo processing, your overnight mail, your microwave eggs, your instant hot water and text messaging. Enough, okay?
By the end of this book, or even before, I want you to know in your bones that your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time. Know, too, that the results, the life, and the lifestyle of your dreams can be yours when you put the Compound Effect to work for you
To help you become aware of your choices, I want you to track every action that relates to the area of your life you want to improve. If you’ve decided you want get out of debt, you’re going to track every penny you pull from your pocket. If you’ve decided you want to lose weight, you’re going to track everything you put into your mouth. If you’ve decided to train for an athletic event, you’re going to track every step you take, every workout you do. Simply carry around a small notebook, something you’ll keep in your pocket or purse at all times, and a writing instrument. You’re going to write it all down. Every day. Without fail. No excuses, no exceptions. As if Big Brother’s watching you.
Nobody intends to become obese, go through bankruptcy, or get a divorce, but often (if not always) those consequences are the result of a series of small, poor choices.
For most of us, it’s the frequent, small, and seemingly inconsequential choices that are of grave concern. I’m talking about the decisions you think don’t make any difference at all. It’s the little things that inevitably and predictably derail your success. Whether they’re bone-headed maneuvers, no-biggie behaviors, or are disguised as positive choices (those are especially insidious), these seemingly insignificant decisions can completely throw you off course because you’re not mindful of them. You get overwhelmed, space out, and are unaware of the little actions that take you way off course. The Compound Effect works, all right. It always works, remember? But in this case it works against you because you’re doing… you’re sleepwalking.
We are all self-made men and women, but only the successful take credit for it. I was eighteen when I was introduced to the idea of personal responsibility at a seminar, and the concept completely transformed my life. If you threw out the rest of this book and only practiced this one concept, within two to three years the changes in your life would be so great, your friends and family would have difficulty remembering the “old you.”
If I always took 100 percent responsibility for everything I experienced—completely owning all of my choices and all the ways I responded to whatever happened to me—I held the power. Everything was up to me. I was responsible for everything I did, didn’t do, or how I responded to what was done to me.
You alone are responsible for what you do, don’t do, or how you respond to what’s done to you.
When I asked Richard Branson if he felt luck played a part in his success, he answered, “Yes, of course, we are all lucky. If you live in a free society, you are lucky. Luck surrounds us every day; we are constantly having lucky things happen to us, whether you recognize it or not. I have not been any more lucky or unlucky than anyone else. The difference is when luck came my way, I took advantage of it.”
Preparation (personal growth) +
Attitude (belief/mindset) +
Opportunity (a good thing coming your way) +
Action (doing something about it) =
Then, you can be like Arnold Palmer, who told SUCCESS magazine in February of 2009, “It’s a funny thing; the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Attitude: This is where luck evades most people, and where Sir Richard is spot-on with his belief that luck is all around us. It’s simply a matter of seeing situations, conversations, and circumstances as fortuitous. You cannot see what you don’t look for, and you cannot look for what you don’t believe in.
He's just saying that we should start tracking one habit. That's how to get started in getting life under control. Tracking everything.
Something great mentioned a few chapters back was a gratitude journal in which he wrote one thing down in every day - something about his wife that he was grateful for.
What will the tracking look like? It will be thorough, as in organized. And relentless, as in constant. Each day you’ll start with the date at the top of a fresh page, and start keeping track.
A daily routine built on good habits is the difference that separates the most successful amongst us from everyone else. And doesn’t that make sense? From what we’ve already discussed, you know successful people aren’t necessarily more intelligent or more talented than anyone else. But their habits take them in the direction of becoming more informed, more knowledgeable, more competent, better skilled, and better prepared.
A single poor habit, which doesn’t look like much in the moment, can ultimately lead you miles off course from the direction of your goals and the life you desire.
How do you get Big Mo to pay you a visit? You build up to it. You get into the groove, the “zone,” by doing the things we’ve covered so far:
- Making new choices based on your goals and core values
- Putting those choices to work through new positive behaviors
- Repeating those healthy actions long enough to establish new habits
- Building routines and rhythms into your daily disciplines
- Staying consistent over a long enough period of time
Then, BANG! Big Mo kicks in your door (that’s a good thing)! And you’re virtually unstoppable.
Big Mo = momentum
What do Michael Phelps, Apple, Google, and YouTube have in common? They were doing the same things before and after they achieved momentum. Their habits, disciplines, routines, and consistency were the keys that unlocked momentum for each. And they became unstoppable when Big Mo showed up to their party.
The power of momentum
I’ve mentioned that if there’s one discipline that gives me a competitive advantage, it’s my ability to be consistent. Nothing kills Big Mo quicker and with more certainty than a lack of consistency. Even good, passionate, and ambitious people with good intentions can fall short when it comes to consistency. But it’s a powerful tool you can use to launch the flight toward your goals.
That said, you must also realize your choices, behaviors, and habits are influenced by very powerful external forces. Most of us aren’t aware of the subtle control these forces have on our lives. For you to sustain your positive trajectory toward your goals, you’ll need to understand and govern these influences so they will support rather than derail your journey toward success. Everyone is affected by three kinds of influences: input (what you feed your mind), associations (the people with whom you spend time), and environment (your surroundings).
When conditions are great, things are easy, there aren’t any distractions, no one is interrupting, temptations aren’t luring, and nothing is disturbing your stride; that too is when most everyone else does great. It’s not until situations are difficult, when problems come up and temptation is great, that you get to prove your worthiness for progress. As Jim Rohn would say, “Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”
When you hit the wall in your disciplines, routines, rhythms, and consistency, realize that’s when you are separating yourself from your old self, scaling that wall, and finding your new powerful, triumphant, and victorious self.