Reach New Heights with The Compound Effect

Habit tracker
The Compound Effect
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

I first read The Compound Effect in 2017. It’s such a great, short book with a ton of important concepts that I wanted to read it again and write a summary.

A lot of people are looking for a quick fix or easy way be successful, but that’s not the way success works. We’ve lost sight of the fundamentals. The Compound Effect isn’t anything you haven’t heard before — but it is a good reminder of what you already know.

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The Compound Effect is about small choices made consistently over time.

  • The process can be slow, tedious, seemingly insignificant and sometimes boring, but with consistency and commitment, you can make real progress
  • Would you rather have $3 million in cash today or a penny doubled every day for 30 days? It may be surprising, but the penny doubled is your best bet, even though it seems like nothing is happening for all but the last few days!
  • There’s a story in the book about three friends — Larry, Scott and Brad. Larry makes a few positive choices, Scott keeps doing what he’s been doing and Brad makes a few poor choices. For most of the time, they seem to be equal, but as time goes on and compounding works its magic, Larry is doing really well and Brad, not so much
  • Grit, hard work and fortitude aren’t alluring, but our grandparents knew they were the route to success
  • Once you experience an extended period of prosperity, health or wealth, don’t stop doing what you did to get there


The second chapter is about choices. “Choices are at the root of every one of your results.”

  • Many of our choices are unconscious; we have to gain awareness of the choices we’re making
  • Take 100% responsibility for what you do, don’t do and how you respond to what’s done to you
  • The complete formula for getting lucky = preparation (personal growth) + attitude (belief/mindset) + opportunity (a good thing coming your way) + action (doing something about it)
  • Decide where you want to go and determine what choices will get you there
  • Track your actions so you can see progress towards your goal. Tracking is a simple exercise that brings awareness to what you’re doing and the easiest way to manage or improve a situation
  • Jim Rohn said, “What’s simple to do is also simple not to do.” The magic isn’t in the complexity, it’s in the simple tasks repeated consistently over time
  • Start now and start small. You may not notice any changes for awhile BUT you’ll adopt good habits and gain momentum


Next the author talks about habits. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

  • A large portion of everything that we do is the result of a learned habit
  • Habits are helpful if they’re good habits; a daily routine of good habits separates the most successful people from the rest
  • We fall back into bad habits quickly because we want instant gratification and the difference between good and bad habits doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in the moment
  • The Law of Attraction works when we define what we want because we unconsciously start to look for it; most people don’t stop to figure out what they want or how to get there
  • Your life comes down to this formula — goals = choices (decisions) + behaviors (actions) + habits (repeated actions) + compounding (time)

Finding Your Why

  • Uprooting bad habits can be difficult, but understanding why you want to change the habit can be helpful
  • Willpower won’t work — you need why-power
  • Connect your choices to your desires and dreams and your core values
  • Nothing creates more stress in our lives than when our actions and behaviors aren’t in line with our core values
  • When you know your why, set goals and make a written plan to accomplish them, you will succeed

Eliminating Bad and Creating Good Habits

Five strategies for eliminating bad habits:

  • Identify your triggers by asking who, what, where and when
  • Clean house to eliminate the temptation to fall back into bad habits
  • Swap it for a better habit
  • Ease in to better habits so that you stick with them OR jump in if that works better for you
  • Run a check and eliminate a bad habit for a period of time (like 30 days)

Six strategies for installing good habits:

  • Set yourself up to succeed (being prepared isn’t half the battle, it is the battle)
  • Think about what you’re adding to your life, not about what you’re subtracting
  • Share your goals with others for accountability
  • Find a success buddy for added accountability
  • Do a challenge or competition with others to incentivize new habits
  • Celebrate your wins


Getting started is always slow-going. The Law of Inertia says objects at rest tend to stay at rest and objects in motion tend to stay in motion.

Momentum will come after you:

  • Identify your goals and core values
  • Start making choices to support those goals
  • Repeat those choices to establish new habits
  • Build routines into your daily disciplines
  • Stay consistent over time

Rhythm and Routine

  • Many of us live our lives in “fits and starts” instead of sticking with our routines
  • Routines ease life’s stresses by making actions automatic
  • The author created a “rhythm register” — which is like a habit tracker with a score at the end of the week (how he did vs. his goal)
  • Think long term about your choices and habits and choose ones that you can sustain over time

Bookend Your Days

Often life can go off the rails, but we can bookend our days by starting and ending with powerful, effective routines. Darren’s morning routine looks like this:

  • Wake up at 5
  • Spend the next 8 minutes thinking about what he’s grateful for, sending love to someone, thinking about his #1 goal and planning three ways he can move closer to that goal
  • Get out of bed and stretch for 10 minutes
  • Read something positive and instructional for 30 minutes
  • Work on his most important project for 1 hour
  • Calibrate his day for 15 minutes — reviews weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals and sets top three MVPs (most valuable priorities) for the day
  • Email
  • Go to work on his MVPs

I had actually just been talking with a few people on Twitter about morning and evening routines. Check out these examples by Cami and Joe.


We’re all affected by three types of influences — input (what you feed your mind), associations (the people with whom you spend time) and environment (your surroundings).

  • Controlling your input has a direct and measurable impact on your outcomes
  • Fill your mind with clear water (positive, inspirational and supportive ideas) instead of dirty water (too much media, news, TV, etc.)
  • The people closest to us influence us in positive or negative ways — eventually we start to eat what they eat, talk like they talk, read what they read and more
  • There are some associations in your life that you might want to weed out or limit (to avoid negative influences) or expand (to increase positive influences)
  • An honest accountability partner can help you grow
  • Invest in coaches and mentorship
  • Create a positive environment, reduce clutter and complete anything that’s incomplete (and energy-draining)


Lastly, the author talks about acceleration.

  • When you hit an emotional or mental wall, recognize that your competitors are hitting it too. If you can keep going, you’ll be ahead
  • When conditions are great, it’s easy to do well. When situations are difficult, separate yourself from the crowd by finding a way to keep making progress
  • To multiply your results, go above and beyond when you hit the wall or push past what other people expect of you
  • Ask yourself how you can do more than expected, do the unexpected or go for the wow-factor

Final Thoughts + Resources

“To get different results, you’re going to have to do things differently.” If you’re not getting the results you want in a part of your life — business, finances, health, spirituality, family and relationships and lifestyle — do things differently.

The Compound Effect is one of my favorite books. I think the topics are so powerful. It’s a quick read and the end of chapter summaries are excellent — very action oriented and quick to implement.

Check out these resources:

Want to chat about the book? Message me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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