the compound effect summary

Book Summary & Notes: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Compound Effect

Published: 2010 by SUCCESS Media

Self-Help | Personal Development | Habits

Published: 2010 by SUCCESS Media

Self-Help | Personal Development | Habits

Buy the Book: AbeBooks | The Book Depository

Resonating Quotes:

“We are all self-made men and women, but only the successful take credit for it.”

“Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”

“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.”

“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 operator’s manual that teaches you how to own the system, how to control it, master it, and shape it to your needs and desires. Once you do, there is nothing you can’t obtain or achieve.

This book is not for you if you have an aversion to discipline, hard work, and commitment.

About Darren Hardy

Darren Hardy is today’s preeminent Success Mentor having been a central business leader in the personal growth and success industry now for more than 20 years. He is also a well-established public speaker and a former publisher of the highly popular SUCCESS magazine.

Visit for free downloads and handouts.


Consistency the ultimate key to success, yet it’s one of the biggest pitfalls for people struggling to achieve.

If you aren’t good at something, work harder, work smarter. Be the guy who says ‘no.’ It’s no great achievement to go along with the crowd. Be the unusual guy, the extraordinary guy.

The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices.

Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE

Three friends comparison

  • Larry: stays the same. In no man’s land.
  • Scott: make a few small changes, cuts out 125 calories a day, walking daily, starts listening to a few minutes of personal development material daily.
  • Brad: makes a few poor choices. Adds 125 calories a day.

After 18 months, there is a slight difference between the three friends. After 25 months there is a measurable difference. After 31 months there are startling differences. Scott has lost 33.5 LBS and Brad has gained 33.5 LBS.
You can choose to green and grow or ripen and rot.

The Ripple Effect – With enough time and consistency, the outcomes become visible. Better yet, they’re totally predictable.

Success, Old School – Our grandparents knew this, though they didn’t spend their evenings glued to the TV watching infomercials about how to have thin thighs in thirty days or a real estate kingdom in six months. They knew the secret was hard work, discipline, and good habits.

Microwave Mentality – you only hear stories about the one winner, not the millions of losers. (I couldn’t agree more!)

Your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time.

Actionable Insights:

  1. Write out a few excuses you might be clinging to (e.g., not smart enough, no experience, wrong upbringing, don’t have the education, etc.). Decide to make up in hard work and personal development to outcompete anyone—including your old self.

2. Be Scott—Write out the half-dozen small, seemingly inconsequential steps you can take every day that can take your life in a completely new and positive direction.


Everything in your life exists because you first made a choice about something. Choices are at the root of every one of your results. Each choice starts a behavior that over time becomes a habit. Don’t choose at all, and you’ve made the choice to be the passive receiver of whatever comes your way.

You make your choices, and then your choices make you. Every choice has an impact on the Compound Effect of your life.

Our choices are often shaped by our culture and upbringing.

100 percent personal responsibility. – You alone are responsible for what you do, don’t do, or how you respond to what’s done to you.

No matter what has happened to you, take complete responsibility for it—good or bad, victory or defeat. Own it.

The (Complete) Formula for Getting Lucky:

Preparation (personal growth) + Attitude (belief/mindset) + Opportunity (a good thing coming your way) + Action (doing something about it) = Luck

The first step toward change is awareness. If you want to get from where you are to where you want to be, you have to start by becoming aware of the choices that lead you away from your desired destination. Become very conscious of every choice you make today so you can begin to make smarter choices moving forward.

The biggest difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not.

For now on, track your life with the same intention: to bring your goals within sight.

It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.

The key is to start NOW. Every great act, every fantastic adventure, starts with small steps. The first step always looks harder than it actually is.

Losing is a habit. So is winning. Now let’s work on permanently instilling winning habits into your life.

Actionable Insights:

  1. What area, person, or circumstance in your life do you struggle with the most? Start journaling all the aspects of that situation that you are grateful for. Keep a record of everything that reinforces and expands your gratitude in that area.
  2. Where in your life are you not taking 100 percent responsibility for the success or failure of your present condition? Write down 3 things you have done in the past that have messed things up. Write down 3 things you can start doing right now to take back responsibility for the outcomes of your life.
  3. Start tracking at least one behavior in one area of your life you’d like to change and improve (e.g., money, nutrition, fitness, recognizing others, parenting… any area.)


Psychological studies reveal that 95 percent of everything we feel, think, do, and achieve is a result of a learned habit! We develop them over time. Beginning in childhood, we learned a series of conditioned responses that led us to react automatically (as in, without thinking) to most situations.

Our habits and routines allow us to use minimal conscious energy for everyday tasks.

It’s because our need for immediate gratification can turn us into the most reactive, nonthinking animals around.

Supersmall, seemingly inconsequential adjustments can and will revolutionize everything.

Forget about willpower. It’s time for why-power. Your choices are only meaningful when you connect them to your desires and dreams.

Your choices are only meaningful when you connect them to your desires and dreams. The wisest and most motivating choices are the ones aligned with that which you identify as your purpose, your core self, and your highest values. You’ve got to want something, and know why you want it, or you’ll end up giving up too easily.

What motivates you is the ignition to your passion, the source for your enthusiasm, and the fuel of your persistence.

To truly ignite your creative potential and inner drive, you have to look beyond the motivation of monetary and material goals. It’s not that those motivations are bad; in fact, they’re great. I’m a connoisseur of nice things. But material stuff can’t really recruit your heart, soul, and guts into the fight.

Your core values are your internal compass, your guiding beacon, your personal GPS.

Find Your Fight – Enemies give us a reason to stand tall with courage. Having to fight challenges your skills, your character, and your resolve. It forces you to assess and exercise your talents and abilities. Without a motivating fight, we can become fat and lazy; we lose our strength and purpose.

We can use our past hurtful experiences to fuel positive, constructive change, rather than letting them sap our energy and sabotage our success.

Billions of sensory (visual, audio, physical) bites of information bombards us each day. To keep ourselves from going insane, we ignore 99.9 percent of them, only really seeing, hearing, or experiencing those upon which our mind focuses.

When you define your goals, you give your brain something new to look for and focus on. It’s as if you’re giving your mind a new set of eyes from which to see all the people, circumstances, conversations, resources, ideas, and creativity surrounding you.

Top people have very clear goals. They know who they are and they know what they want. They write it down and they make plans for its accomplishment.

The person who has a clear, compelling, and white-hot burning why will always defeat even the best of the best at doing the how.

The question we should be asking ourselves is: “Who do I need to become?” “If you want to have more, you have to become more. Success is not something you pursue. What you pursue will elude you; it can be like trying to chase butterflies. Success is something you attract by the person you become.” – Jim Rohn

Game changers: Five Strategies for Eliminating Bad Habits

  1. Identify your triggers – Figure out what Darren calls “The Big 4’s”—the “who”, the “what”, the “where”, and the “when” underlying each bad behavior. For example: Are you more likely to drink too much when you’re certain with people? Is there are certain time of day when you just have to have something sweet? What emotions tend to provoke your worst habits?
  2. Clean House – For example, if you want to eliminate the habit of drinking, remove every drop of it from your house. Get rid of the glasses, any fancy utensils. If you want to stop drinking coffee, heave the coffee maker. Bottomline: Get rid of whatever enables your bad habits.
  3. Swap It – Look at your bad habits. How can you alter them so that they’re not as harmful? Can you replace them with healthier habits or drop-kick them altogether?
  4. Easi In – For some of your deep-rooted habits, it may be more effective to take small steps to ease into unwinding them.
  5. Or Jump In – If it’s easier for you to make lifestyle changes if you change many bad habits at once, take the big plunge! It will be exhilarating and well worth the temporary discomfort.

Game Changers: Six Techniques for Installing Good Habits

Eliminating a bad habit means removing something from your routine. Installing a new, more productive habit requires an entirely different skill set.

Leadership expert John C. Maxwell said, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

  1. Set Yourself Up to Succeed.
  2. Think Addition, Not Subtraction.
  3. Go for a PDA: Public Display of Accountability – Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell Facebook and Twitter. Get the word out that there’s a new sheriff in town, and you’re in charge.
  4. Find a Success Buddy – Find your “Peak Performance Partner”
  5. Competition & Camaraderie – a friendly contest to whet your competitive spirit and immerse yourself in a new habit with a bang.
  6. Celebrate! Promise yourself a nice big pot of gold when you reach the end of the rainbow.
  7. Be patient.

There is a one thing that 99 percent of “failures” and “successful” folks have in common—they all hate doing the same things. The difference is successful people do them anyway.

Change is hard. What excites me about this reality, however, is that if change were easy, and everyone were doing it, it would be much more difficult for you and me to stand out and become an extraordinary success. Ordinary is e

Ordinary is easy. Extra-ordinary is what will separate you from the crowd.

Personally, I’m always happy when something is hard. Why? Because I know that most people won’t do what it takes; therefore, it will be easier for me to step in front of the pack and take the lead.


Achievers—people who get into a successful rhythm—continue busting their butts and end up achieving more and more.

Progress is slow, but once a newly formed habit has kicked in, Big Mo joins the part.

Ever wonder why successful people tend to get more successful… the rich get richer… the happy get happier… the lucky get luckier? They’ve got Mo. When it rains, it pours.

How to gain momentum:

  1. Making new choices based on your goals and core values
  2. Putting those choices to work through new positive behaviors
  3. Repeating those healthy actions long enough to establish new habits
  4. Building routines and rhythms into your daily disciplines
  5. Staying consistent over a long enough period of time

Routine – something you do every day without fail, so that eventually, like brushing your teeth or putting on your seatbelt, you do it without conscious thought

A daily routine built on good habits and disciplines separates the most successful among us from everyone else. A routine is exceptionally powerful.

The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines.

Rise & Shine – “If I only did three things today, what are the actions that will produce the greatest results in moving me closer to my big goals?”

The rest of the day can take a million different shapes, but as long as I go through my morning routine, a majority of the key disciplines I need to be practicing are taken care of, and I’m properly grounded and prepared to perform at a much higher level than if I started each day erratic

Sweet Dreams – your mind continues to process the last information consumed before bedtime, so I want to focus my attention on something constructive and helpful in making progress with my goals and ambitions.

Life is simply a collection of experiences; our goal should be to increase the frequency and the intensity of the good experiences.

Winning the race is all about pace. Be the tortoise. The person who, given enough time, will beat virtually anybody in any competition as a result of positive habits and behaviors applied consistently. That’ll put the mojo in your momentum. And keep it there!


Even those that seem insignificant, when compounded, can make an extreme impact on your life.

You are 100 percent responsible for your life. You alone are responsible for the choices you make and the actions you take. That said, you must also realize your choices, behaviors, and habits are influenced by very powerful external forces.

Everyone is affected by three kinds of influences: input (what you feed your mind), associations (the people with whom you spend time), and the environment (your surroundings).

I. Input: Garbage In, Garbage Out

If you want your brain to perform at its peak, you’ve got to be even more vigilant about what you feed it. Are you feeding it news summaries or mind-numbing sitcoms? Are you reading the tabloids or SUCCESS?

Controlling the input has a direct and measurable impact on your productivity and outcomes.

Step 1: Stand Guard

We can’t change our DNA, but we can change our behavior. We can teach our minds to look beyond “lack and attack.” How? We can protect and feed our minds.

We can be disciplined and proactive about what we allow in.

Your mind is like an empty glass, it’ll hold anything you put into it. You put in snesational news, salacious headlines, talk-show rants, and you’re pouring dirty water into your glass.

Positive, inspirational, and supportive input and ideas of aspiration, people ho, despite challenges, are overcoming obstacles and achieving great things. Strategies of success, prosperity, health, love, and joy. Ideas to create more abundance, to grow, expand, and become more.

Put Yourself on a Media Diet

Media masters understand your nature, in many ways better than you. The media has always used shocking and sensational headlines to draw attention.

The great danger of the media is that it gives us a very perverted view of the world. Because the focus and the repetition of messaging are on the negative, that’s what our minds start believing.

Author’s personal junk filter:
Does not watch or listen to any news.
Does not read any newspapers or news magazines.

“Ninety-nine percent of all news has no bearing on my personal life or my personal goals, dreams, and ambitions anyway.” (True!)

Step 2. Enroll in Drive-Time U

Think about it; using the time you’re currently wasting by listening to drive-time radio, you could obtain the equivalent of Ph.D. in leadership, sales success, wealth building, relationship excellence—or whatever course you choose.

II. Associations: Who’s Influencing You?

Your reference group – “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to have a positive outlook on life.

Shift your associations into 3 categories:

  • Dissociations – there are some people you might need to break away from. completely.
  • Limited associations. – there are some people you can spend three hours with, but not three days. Make sure you’re not spending three hours with a three-minute person.
  • Expanded associations. – identify people who have positive qualities in the areas of life where you want to improve and reach out to them. Join organizations, businesses and health clubs where these people hang out.

Find a peak performance partner – Weekly call 30 minutes every Friday.
Discuss wins, losses, fixes, and ah-has.

Ask your friends:
“How do I show up to you?”
“What are my strengths?”
“Where can I improve?”
“Where do you think I sabotage myself?”
“What is the one thing I could stop doing that will benefit me the most?”

Invest in mentorship. – Expand yourself and your ideas. Mentoring is your true legacy.

Develop your own personal board of advisers. – Solicit ideas. Run thoughts by them. Ask for feedback and input. Seek out positive people who have achieved the success you want to create in your own life.

Never ask advice of someone with whom you wouldn’t want to trade places.

III. Environment: Changing Your View Changes Your Perspective

Environment is whatever surrounds you.

Creating a positive environment to support your success means clearing out all the clutter in your life.

Psychic clutter – whatever around you isn’t working, whatever’s broken, whatever makes you cringe.

If you tolerate disrespect, you will be disrespected.

Some people think they’re the victims of other people’s behavior, but in actuality, we have control over how people treat us .

Protect your emotional, mental, and physical space so you can live with peace, rather than in the chaos and stress the world will hurl upon you.


When you’ve prepared, practiced, studied, and consistently put in the required effort, sooner or later you’ll be presented with your own moment of truth.

Multiplying Your Results – Viewing yourself as your toughest competitor is one of the best ways to multiply your results.

Beat the expectations. The author gave Oprah as an example, one time in her show she gave everyone in her audience a car. When can you go for “Wow!”?. Go above and beyond when you hit the wall.

You can do more than expected in every aspect of your life. No idea is worthwhile if it doesn’t start with ‘Wow!’ ”

Do the unexpected. What’s popular is average?

Common things deliver common results. Ordinary is okay, but why not go for extraordinary?


Learning without execution is useless.

The Compound Effect is a tool that, when combined with consistent, positive action, will make a real and lasting difference in your life

Questions from the author:

  • Look back on your life five years ago. Are you now where you thought you would be 5 years later?
  • Have you kicked the bad habits you vowed to kick?
  • Are you in the shape of wanted to be?
  • Do you have the cushy income, the enviable lifestyle and the personal freedom you expected?
  • Do you have the vibrant health, abundant loving relationships and world class skills you intended to have by this point in your life? If not; why?

Simple: choices! Time to make a new choice. Chose not to let the next five years be a continuum of the last five. Chose to change your life once and for all.

Let’s make the next five years of your life fantastically different from the last five.

No more excuses! Refuse to be fooled by the latest gimmick or become distracted by quick fixes.


I was so curious about this book prior to reading it. In investing, there’s a process called “compound interest” where  an asset’s earnings (from capital gains or interest) are reinvested to generate more money. When the investment grows, it compounds and brings in more capital.

This process also applies in life. Whether you’re making good choices, bad choices or no choice at all, over time each choice will compound. The Compound Effect is always working. You can’t really turn it off. So the only question is whether you want The Compound Effect to work for you or against you.

Everyone wants to become successful, live a fulfilled and healthy life, but not everyone wants to experience hard work and discipline.

This book tells us that we need to start small, start now and do it daily. Because seemingly insignificant actions reap good rewards. I was reminded by this verse in the Bible, “A man reaps what he sows.”.

This book has a life-changing concept. I started writing down my goals not just weekly, but monthly and annually. I also started reading and listening to more books.

This is a must read if you’re looking for a real and lasting success.

Listen to Audiobook: Audible (Free) | | AudiobooksNow (Free)

Buy the Book: AbeBooks | The Book Depository

Ebook: Kobo

Similar Posts