The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
One Line Summary
Dominate life with the Compound Effect
In my review of Mastery by George Leonard, I hammered on the importance of patience when it comes to real success life. It’s of those pieces of advice that’s timeless and has probably been told to you since you were a kid, but it isn’t until you start seeing the real world applications pay out that you probably will start taking it seriously. This book, The Compound Effect, will go a long way to shifting your real life perception of patience and its value.
The book starts off with Hardy explaining what the Compound Effect is and how it will effect your life. From there, he goes into real life examples of how to put these principles into practice. At the end of each chapter, there are excellent action steps for you to follow.
Why it’s Awesome
What is The Compound Effect? Plainly stated, it’s the concept that your success in life do not occur like a straight line. Rather, they look like an exponential line: slow moving and almost invisible at first, but then eventually skyrocketing. Nassim Taleb calls this concept “lumpy payoffs”, but it’s the same idea.
The consequences of this are far greater than most people would probably expect. It means that people who quit it the beginning because they’re seeking instant gratification are doomed to always fail. It means that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It means that the hardest part of achieving any goal is always at the start. And finally. It means that consistency and momentum are king. And it means that tiny, seemingly inconsequential habits are what win the day.
If you’re new to self-development, this book is a great introduction to the kinds of ideas that are going to be extremely valuable to you throughout your journey. And if you’re already a person who is very successful, the Compound Effect is still going to necessary to you because its application is how you will sustain success / take your results to the next level.
So how do we apply this phenomenon of success? One example Hardy goes into is constantly evaluating your peer group. It might seem that the cutting out one “bad” friend (bad in this case just means not helping you towards your goals) from your life and gaining a new “good” one wouldn’t have a dramatic effect. But let’s analyze in the context of the Compound Effect:
You and your “bad friend” used to play video games together all the time. You never really got out and socialized much, and you never really exercised or focused that much on your career during those couple hours a day that you spent playing video games.
Then you meet your “good friend”, and your good friend encourages socializing, exercise and career goals. You start spending those couple of hours a day going to the gym or reading a book instead because of your new friend.
What happens? Say you used to spend two hours on video games. Now that you’ve made the switch to using that time more productively, you spend an hour at the gym and an hour reading. Over the course of a year, you’ve logged 365 hours at both of those activities. 365 hours is enough to finish possibly every book on my blog and make major progress towards fitness goals. If you did it for 5 years, that’s 1,825 hours. You could basically have a PhD and look like a fitness model.
But it doesn’t stop there. The fact that you’re reading so much means that you’ve got tremendous knowledge that you can now apply in your everyday life. So you become even MORE productive. Getting in shape means that you now have more energy to expend throughout the day. Again, your capacity for work increases. And so maybe you start applying even more habits, like meditation.
Now because you’re meditation, you’re able to control your emotions better. You’re happier with yourself. People see that you have an ability to stick to a task and get great results, and so people start to look towards you as a leader. Maybe now you get a promotion at work.
Because you get promoted at work, developed leadership skills and you’ve read so much, you’ve now got the money, knowledge and skills to start your dream business. Your dream business allows you to impact many people’s lives in positive ways and even retire early with no worry for money ever again.
All because you decided to cut out one “bad friend”. One you’re hot, you’re hot. And it’s almost impossible to cool you down.
If you think I’m exaggerating, I can assure you I’m not. I’m not going to pretend like I have the perfect life. That’s not real. But I still can trace my current level of success in life back to very specific decisions I made that seemed totally inconsequential at the time. Over time, the Compound Effect come up in full force.
Of course, the Compound Effect also works in reverse. If nothing in life ever seems to work out for you, likely the Compound Effect is fucking you somewhere in your life. Maybe a lack of money leads to a lack of education. But you can’t get more money because all your time is taken up by trying to work two jobs to pay rent. The Compound Effect is pounding you into the ground.
The REAL key takeaway from this book is this: you’ve got to break the cycle. The Compound Effect is either working for you or against you. It’s never neutral. If it’s currently working against you, you’ve got to do ANYTHING you can to get it on your side. It doesn’t matter how small, just do it if you think it’s moving you in the right direction. It’s going to be tough as shit, but the alternative is total failure. So why not try?
The fact is that most of my time is spent doing shit that seems totally pointless. For instance, let’s look at this blog. I can assure you that when I write a post right now, it does not suddenly go viral or seem to have much effect on the popularity of my blog at all. But because I understand this principle, I know I’m in this for the long haul. Come talk to me in three to five years and we will see if it was really pointless.
Why Does It Suck
Although some of the advice in this book is timeless, I do believe there are even higher level of self-development. For instance, one thing Hardy argues is that in order to motivate yourself, you should hold yourself accountable by making your pledge of making a new habit public. The fact that you’ll now risk looking bad if you give up on your pledge, you’re far more likely to carry it out. Shockingly more likely actually.
So this seems like a good solution. And it is. I use this principle in my self-development when we have meetings, by asking everyone to declare their goals public. This has the added benefit of also clarifying the goal in the person’s head.
But is it the best solution there is to this problem? We could ask, why is it that you need social acceptance in the first place? Why aren’t you internally motivated? Why are you so afraid to disappoint the herd? Will you ever become a leader with that mentality? Outside the box thinking is where the best work comes from. So while I like this solution of public accountability, I don’t see it as the highest level of self-development.
The Wrap Up
If you’re new to self-development, definitely make sure you pick up a copy of this book. It will immediately get you on the right track to changing your life and getting the Compound Effect to start working for you.
If you’re advanced in self-development, you’ve probably already heard many of these ideas. Personally I wouldn’t say I learned anything “new” from reading this book. But it was still a great refresher to hear these words again. Some of these concepts, although incredibly simple, are incredibly difficult to put into practice in the real world. You may find that even after 10 years of self-development, you’re still making some of these beginner mistakes. So never underestimate the power of reviewing the fundamentals.
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