If you have never read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy of the New York Times bestseller when you have the opportunity.
The book has had a profound ‘effect’ on the lives of people around the globe, many of which are aspiring entrepreneurs. The premise of the book follows several key concepts, one of which we are going to focus on today.
Here is the principle: that small, seemingly insignificant choices have drastic effects when practiced consistently over time.
Darren Hardy put’s the formula like this:
“Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE”.
Small, Smart Choices
I want to put emphasis on each of these words individually. One of the biggest mistakes we make when we want to improve our life is attempting to go too big, too fast. We want to get into shape, so what do we do? We transition from a weekly regiment of zero minutes at the gym, to braving the most intense routine we can find on the internet. This may work for a few people, but those cases are few and far between. Most us will burn out relatively quickly because we get discouraged after not seeing results in the first couple of weeks.
Instead, why not make small adjustments in daily activity? Before you buy that premium gym membership, what if you just made sure you can be diligent in doing calisthenics in your home three times a week? These ‘small’ choices will ease you into forming new habits without drastic change to your everyday life. As you master the small tasks, you can then scale upwards.
Keeping your choices ‘smart’ is just as important. Your time and energy are currencies that you only have so much of and need to allocate wisely. The military has a phrase I once heard, “ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain.” According to a friend, this was used in reference to what you should and should not take in your rucksack (backpack) for a mission. They would go on long hikes and overtime, even the slightest amount of weight would make all the difference.
The goal was to take only what you needed for the mission. Make sure you put some thought into whether the choices you are adding to your daily routine are bringing you closer to your aims in an efficient manner. Do away with any ‘excess weight.’
Let’s start this point with an analogy. It’s movie night, and as tradition dictates you are grabbing a bag of popcorn throw in the microwave. It typically takes about 4 minutes for this particular brand to be ready. What would happen if every three seconds, you opened that microwave to see if it was ready? Spoilers… It would never finish.
This is the attitude we typically take on when we are trying to make a change in our lives. Consistency over the course of three days is not true consistency. True consistency is a day-in and day-out commitment, you will not gain needed momentum if you keep making pit-stops on the way to your goal. Know that the new choices you are implementing in your life will get easier with time, they will become habitual, but to get to that point you must stay dedicated…Rain, Sleet, or Snow.
You may have heard the magic penny, this is something Darren Hardy references in his book. The question is, “would you rather take $3 million cash this instant or a single penny that doubles in value every day for 31 days?” If we’re honest with ourselves, the $3 million cash initially seems like the better choice. At the 20 days mark the magic penny only reaches a value of $5,243 and still seems like inferior choice. However, by day 31 the magic of the compounding penny reaches a value of $10,737,418.24 which dwarfs the $3 million cash up front.
The lesson to be learned here is to not be discouraged if you are not seeing what you would consider a big difference when your four or five months consistent choices. This is the way the ‘compound effect’ works. Results are going to come, and they are going to compound in a similar fashion to the magic penny. You will begin to distance yourself more and more each day from who you were.
**Another spoiler… while there are tips and tricks to help you along the way, there are NO shortcuts to success! In a choice between the tortoise and the hare, be the tortoise. It may not be flashy, but success is a marathon not a sprint.