the compound effect summary

Book Summary: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Book in Three Sentences

In this summary of The Compound Effect, you’ll learn all about one principle: to win in life, you have to develop good habits and be consistent with them even if it’s tedious or time-consuming. Over time, the compound effect will work in your favor and you’ll start seeing extraordinary results. The difference lies in the small things, not the big ones, so there isn’t such a thing as overnight success.

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The Compound Effect Summary


The book is about success and what you have to do to achieve it. But there’s no magic formula. Earning success is difficult, time-consuming, tedious, and boring which is why most people aren’t successful.

Chapter 1: The Compound Effect in Action

To win at anything, you have to develop positive habits and be consistent in applying them. To achieve something, you have to develop the discipline to be dedicated and responsible. The compound effect is about reaping big rewards from small, but smart choices. A bad choice, regardless of how inconsequential it might seem, can send you on a downward spiral of negativity.

Chapter 2: Choices

We come into the world the same, but our lives end as the accumulation of all of the choices we make. Choices can be good or bad. These choices start as such but eventually become habits. Every decision you make alters the trajectory of your life. But don’t sleepwalk through your choices and be aware that you’re making them in the first place

When something bad happens, that act is the result of a series of poor choices. Small, poor choices can have major repercussions. Pay close attention to the choices you make frequently, these can have serious effects. Frequent choices can derail your success, especially when they seem inoffensive. Don’t make choices without thinking. Wake up and make conscious decisions.

Be willing to take one hundred percent responsibility to make any relationship work. In other words, assume everything is your fault. Don’t blame others for what you’re experiencing: you can choose what to do, you can choose what not to do, and you choose how to respond to what’s done to you. There’s no relationship between luck and success. We all forge our paths.

The (Complete) Formula for Getting Lucky: Preparation (personal growth) + Attitude (belief/mindset) + Opportunity (a good thing coming your way) + Action (doing seomthign about it) = Luck

  • Preparation: how we improve and prepare ourselves (the skills, knowledge, expertise, relationships, and resources we develop)
  • Attitude: how we perceive what happens around us
  • Opportunity: these are natural occurrences
  • Action: what we do

Pick an area of your life where you want to be successful. Picture where you are and picture where you want to be. Be aware of the choices that are steering you away from that ideal future. Start making smarter choices.

Track every decision related to the area you chose. Take responsibility for your situation and stop telling yourself excuses. Don’t neglect the simple things that lead to bigger things in life. Tracking works because it brings awareness to the actions related to the area you want to improve. Track one habit for one week. Choose a habit that has control over you. The tracking has to be organized and constant. Once you’re over, you’ll be aware of and conscious of your choices. The earlier you start making small changes, the more powerful the compound effect will be.

Chapter 3: Habits

Successful people aren’t more intelligent or talented, their habits make them more informed, knowledgeable, competent, and better prepared. Why do we choose bad habits over good ones? Because instant gratification makes it difficult for us to be rational. A small habit can derail your life and prevent you from achieving your goals.

To get rid of bad habits, you have to want something and know why you want it. Your passion shouldn’t involve material things, it should go deeper. Don’t focus on achievement, focus on fulfillment. Your core values guide you. You also have to know what your goals are. When you define a goal, you’re giving something for your brain to focus on. Once you have your goal, you have to become a person that’s more likely to achieve it. Your behavior stands between you and your goal.

Five strategies for eliminating bad habits:

  1. Identify your triggers: the “who”, the “what”, the “where”, and the “when”
  2. Clean house: get rid of what enables your bad habits
  3. Swap it: replace bad habits with good ones
  4. Ease in: take small steps to change bad habits
  5. Or jump in: go cold turkey

You shouldn’t remove every bad thing from your life, but at the same time, you shouldn’t allow habits to be the boss of you. To that effect, you can go on a “vice fast” which means picking one vice (such as chocolate, movies, alcohol, or coffee) and abstain from it for a month.

Six techniques for installing good habits:

  1. Set yourself up for success: make the process as easy and frictionless as possible.
  2. Think addition, not subtraction: think of what you can have, not what you can’t. For example, reading books (what you can have) can be far more enriching than watching TV (what you can’t have).
  3. Go for a public display of accountability: tell everyone what you’re doing
  4. Find a success buddy
  5. Competition and camaraderie: contests and friendly competitions can be healthy
  6. Celebrate: find rewards to give yourself often

Change is hard because you have to build a routine, a series of good habits, and keep doing them for your entire life. Ordinary is easy and extraordinary isn’t. When something is hard, that means most people won’t do it. This should be your motivation.

When it comes to breaking old habits and starting new ones, be patient. Most of your old habits started years ago, it’s only natural that it’ll take some time to get rid of them. Don’t give attention to bad habits, just focus on establishing new ones. It’s alright to make mistakes, just be ready to start over and move on.

Chapter 4: Momentum

Newton’s law of inertia states that motionless objects tend to stay motionless. This would explain why achievers keep achieving more and more. Once you build momentum, it’s easier to keep going. The first step is the hardest. Once you take one step, progress is slow for a while, and then the new habit kicks in. Once you get momentum, you’re hard to stop.

To achieve this:

  1. Make new choices based on your goals and core values
  2. Put those choices to work through positive behaviors
  3. Repeat those healthy actions to establish new habits
  4. Build routines into your daily disciplines
  5. Stay consistent

Challenge yourself in new ways every once in a while because this helps recapture a passion. 

Once your daily disciplines become a routine, create a rhythm. Create boundaries that separate work from family. Weekends should be about marriage and family.

Being inconsistent hurts your rhythm. There’s a toll to starting and then stopping over and over. Consistency is the key to maintaining momentum.

Chapter 5: Influences

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

  1. Input: controlling the input (what your brain consumes) has a direct impact on what you create. If you feed on negativity, you’ll become negative. What you expose your mind to, that’s what you’ll think about. Surround yourself with positive, motivational, and supportive ideas. Get rid of the bad (such as watching TV or listening to the radio), and incorporate some good (such as listening to audiobooks or inspirational podcasts).
  1. Associations: your “reference group” determines your success or failure in life. The influence these people have is subtle and it can be positive or negative. Spend the majority of your time with the people who have the traits you want. Their behavior will soon become part of your routine. You can always reappraise and reprioritize the people you spend time with. An essential step you must take involves breaking away from the people who are a bad influence. This is called disassociation. Their fears, guilt, poor choices, and lack of discipline are contagious. Some people you might have to spend some time with even if you don’t want to. Decide how much time you can afford to spend time with them before their dominant attitudes negatively impact you. Never spend three hours with a person you should be spending three minutes with. This is called limited association. Finally, we have expanded associations which involve spending time with people who have positive trains in the areas you want to improve. You can have a peak performance partner as a mentor or someone who’s equally committed to growing.
  1. Environment: an environment can have a powerful effect on you. In life, you get what you accept (tolerate disrespect and you’ll be disrespected). Life organizes itself around your standards, so protect your emotional, mental, or physical space so that you can relax even if the rest of the world’s falling apart.

Chapter 6: Acceleration

Once you’ve prepared, practiced, studied, and put in the effort, you’ll eventually be presented with your moment of truth. Right then and there, you have to decide who you are. Will you step forward or will you move backward? Don’t forget that your rivals are facing the same difficulties. To get ahead, chose to move forward when the rest takes a rest. This extra effort is what makes a difference. See those moments as opportunities instead of setbacks. When conditions are great, everything’s easy, but when problems come up, that’s when you have a chance to prove you’re worthy.

You’ll eventually hit a wall, you’ll feel tired and you’ll feel like quitting. Deciding to keep working is what separates you from others and from your former self. You can always do more than expected. Which small steps can you take to exceed expectations? Another way to do this is by doing the expected. Don’t consume “popular” things, don’t be average, don’t be ordinary. Be extraordinary instead. The wow factor makes a statement and makes an impact. Usually, going the extra mile doesn’t require energy, just creativity.


Learning without execution doesn’t mean anything. The compound effect can change your life if you let it. Success isn’t easy and won’t happen overnight.

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