Many people have problems getting control of their lives, whether it be money, relationships, careers, business or just the day to day things. Life can seem chaotic, where you are at the whim of every external force or influence until you don’t know which way is up. Or maybe you’ve found yourself stuck in the same rut every day getting nowhere.
The Compound Effect is based upon a simple premise – that every decision you make shapes your life. Some decisions may lead to success and a better future, others will lead to failure and despair. Choices include how we think about ourselves and how the world works around us: when we make excuses for why we haven’t got to where we want to be (not smart enough, not good enough etc), we are actually holding ourselves back because we are creating a belief system, a pattern if you like, that we will then follow. And following on from attitudes and thought processes come habits. And from habits comes the sort of life we live.
None of this is rocket science. I think deep down we all know that positive mental attitude works. But how do we get there? How do we break the vicious cycles of talking ourselves out of opportunities, of acting as if we don’t want or deserve anything better? Darren Hardy addresses all of this in an easy to read and interesting book. The title, Compound Effect relates to the principle that even the smallest of smart changes can make a huge difference to our lives given time and consistency (like compound interest acting upon a penny). To use an example in the book, if you decide to cut out 125 calories a day, you may not see much change in your body at first, but if you keep at it, after 24 months you will have lost 25.7 pounds. That’s quite a lot and for not much sacrifice or work. But that takes ages, I hear you say – why don’t I just cut out 500 calories per day and go to the gym? Well, yes that would work too – for a while, but the effort of cutting out that much food and attending a gym so regularly would probably wear thin after a while and you would go back to your old ways. However, such a small change is hardly noticeable and would soon become part of a habit, leading to a life change that would see you staying fit and in good shape for life. Getting things done faster is not necessarily better. Think of the tortoise and the hare!
It works for writing too – and has worked wonders for my production. Instead of struggling with an unreachable target, try with something smaller and more manageable – and then keep it up. You are far less likely to go off track. Think of it like this – write, for example, 500-1000 words per day, 6 days a week and that will equal 156,000-312,000 words per year. Even if you take off holidays and a few sick days, that’s still a lot of words!
This is a book that I probably wouldn’t have picked up unless I’d had it recommended to me because from the blurb and cover it comes across as just another ‘be successful and get rich quick’ American self-help book. But it really, really isn’t. For a start Hardy states that there is no magic bullet, no easy way of getting where you want to be. Improving yourself and your life takes hard and consistent work, and self-responsibility; those hoping to suddenly find a way to make instant money without lifting a finger need not read it.
Darren Hardy has taken a simple truth and explained it in a way that is both inspiring and easy to understand. He looks at ways that that truth can be implemented, what may be stopping us, and how that can be fixed. These are the sort of skills that should be taught to school kids (and adults) everywhere.