The compound effect: how small steps lead to big success

by | Oct 18, 2019

You probably know Darren Hardy. The writer who is now famous mostly for his well-known book: The Compound Effect. It is a must-read book, and I have read it maybe two years ago. Just put the book on your shopping list, please.

Table of contents:

Here, we are going to discuss what Darren is going to teach us, i.e. the compound effect. The title is somehow self-explanatory. The compound effect, in brief, describes how small steps can simplify taking big ones. As the name suggests, small steps added together, plus consistency, can create huge outcomes. Darren advises that if you tend to take a huge step, first break your step into many smaller ones and take them one after another.

The concept of the compound effect conveys how small actions if executed persistently, can lead to astonishingly superb achievements. Anyway, Darren Hardy is a guy who knows more than a thing or two about success, business, and life. Then, let us stay all ears open from now on.

Taking steps: big or small?

Most people decide to change or abandon their bad habits in their life at least once. You have also had times in your life when you had decided to lose/gain weight, earn more, exercise more, use your time more efficiently, etc. How do you choose to do it?

Many people tend to achieve their goals overnight. After they decide to lose weight, people all of a sudden halve their daily food and quadruple their weekly exercise time, but all to no avail. They soon withdraw and weary of their rapid changing pace. What is the solution here?

take small steps


Start taking steps, but big or small?

The answer lies inside the compound effect definition. Break down your schedule and you are safe. You do not need to kill yourself exercising nights and days and as a result, get tired of the process quickly. Consistency is what matters here; the persistent individuals are going to succeed in losing weight or whatever the goal is, not the feverish ones.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

Let us clarify the compound effect through examples

Hardy provides several examples illustrating the effect well in his book. In one of them, two friends are assumed; one decides to cut down 125 calories from his daily meal, and the other decides to go as he has been going. Cutting down 125 calories from the daily meal is not what requires a hero to get it done; however, after 31 months, the friend who kept on absorbing the surplus 125 calories was way fatter than the other friend.

Here is another: pumping water from a new well can be a tough, drastic action. Many people soon give up after they hopelessly see no water is coming up. They usually tend to find quicker ways to discover water; all the same, the wise men and women apply consistency in their performance; they get back every day and pump, pump, and pump until they can see the water is found. Small actions and efforts will pay off after all.

In essence, you make your choices, and then your choices make you.

Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

Choices + Behaviour + Habits + Time = Compound Effect

That is the magic formula Hardy defines in his book. The correlation is simple; make a good choice, shape your behaviors accordingly, add some good habits to the process, and wait to see the sweet implications in the long-run. That is the reward only the patients deserve to enjoy.

be patient


Be patient, as the compound effect will not work without applying patience.

The most important factor present in the above formula is time, I say. Although all other items are crucial too, I believe that is the time that differentiates the compound effect from all other definitions toward getting successful in life or business.

Consistency is the key to achieving and maintaining momentum.

Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

The microwave mentality

Have you ever heard the phrase? Let me explain what it is. It simply means the desire to achieve everything in a flash. If you tend to see the results of something in your life or career and feel that is taking too long to appear, maybe you are trapped by the temptation of microwave mentality. Those who want everything in under 5 minutes and believes it is never worth the wait suffer from this phenomenon.

Keep this always in mind that what is valuable takes time to be earned and is worth the wait. Sadly, we live in a world of rapid desires. We want fast foods, we want quick downloads, we need good results in a split-second. We are as much in a hurry as we do not value patience and consistency when doing something.

Forget about the instant results from now on. The fast life has made most of us unable to even tolerate the quick time a microwave takes to prepare our food. Even that short time is now frustrating for us. The success lies in the consistency, and the consistency is what our life lacks.

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

Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

Apply the compound effect on your life

You can apply the compound effect on many aspects of your life. There is nothing incompatible with the concept of the compound effect in your life. Any kind of objectives can be fulfilled through small steps in lieu of big ones. Therefore, let me investigate below some of the most common corners of life in which you can apply the effect properly.


I talked about one method above; cut down something like 100 calories from your daily meal and see the results after a couple of years. Set your bedtime on 30 minutes earlier than you usually go to bed at night. Eat apples instead of chocolates. Ride your bicycle to work instead of your shiny car. Get up 15 minutes earlier than you usually wake up in the morning. Take cold showers instead of warm ones.

cold showers


Cold showers, if taken on a regular basis, will definitely have many benefits for the health.


Save a dollar or two every day, and make it more gradually. Write one blog post every day in your spare time. Invest somewhere and enlarge your investment step by step. Learn about new financial projects 10 minutes a day. Read the books about success in business, even 10 pages a day.


Read something like even 5 pages a day. Write something you like, it does not matter how long it is. Discover new methods to take photos if you are in love with photography. Enter the world of podcasts and educational stuff. Watch documentaries along with scientific movies.

Good behaviors

Yes, in this one also you can improve using the compound effect. Try to be nice to others. Doing even one good thing in your day increases the likelihood of doing the second afterward. How you react to others can compound elsewhere. If you go nicely with someone, he or she is more probable to go nicely with a third person too, and the chain continues to grow.

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

Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

Be consistent, diligent, and persistent to succeed

Do the right thing and repeat it. Repeat, repeat, and repeat again. That is how you can create a difference. To find noticeable evolutions in your life, you definitely need to make small changes and stay consistent to do so. That is after remaining consistent that the good outcomes arrive, i.e. after a long time of persistently repeating the hard work you have started.

working hard and the compound effect


Do the hard work consistently and let the compound effect do the rest.

Do not forget this: do the hard work and stay consistent to discover the fine results you seek, even if you can barely see the decent outcomes through doing the job.

And one more thing to be aware of: do not take small progressions for granted. If you can see improvements in your work after staying consistent for some time, do not conclude the work is done or you will take major steps backward. Instead, count on the positive outcomes as signs showing you are moving on the right track.

Earning success is hard. The process is laborious, tedious, sometimes even boring. Becoming wealthy, influential, and world-class in your field is slow and arduous.

Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

How to put the compound effect to work for you

That is right. You can practice and make this phenomenon work for you. To do so, you need to know the process. Fortunately, Hardy has listed many practices in his book teaching us how to take advantage of the compound effect. Even if the concept is easy to understand in theory, you need to check it in practice to see if you can cope with it. Thus, let me go through the process of how you can take over the compound effect and make it work for you through some steps below:

  1. Jot down your excuses on a piece of paper and try to compensate them with hard work and personal improvement.
  2. Jot down the small, seemingly insignificant steps you can take every day to make a good difference.
  3. Write out the small, seemingly insignificant bad habits you can leave no matter how easy or tough they are.
  4. List some of the skills you have which have helped you succeed in doing something in the past, are you able to use them for your self-improvement?

Final words

The idea of the compound effect looks, without a doubt, working. It just pays off. It simply turns the giant problems ahead into tiny simple problems you can solve one by one, in order to solve that giant one. You can apply this effect in all areas of your life, literally.

Additionally, you should believe in the power of consistency. Doing small things consistently in the direction of your ultimate target will, after all, help you throw away the enormous obstacles ahead. Attach consistency to your small, seemingly insignificant actions and wait for the astonishing outcomes afterward.

Keep in mind that taking advantage of the compound effect needs practice. You need to learn how to divide your big targets into small performable actions in the direction of your main one. Take small steps and they finally compound to a gigantic one, if applied along with consistency.

About Sanan Sanani

About Sanan Sanani

Co-founder and CEO of Sanani Holding Ltd and Sterling Property Advisors.

Sanan Sanani is an entrepreneur, a savvy businessman and self-proclaimed workaholic who loves to stay busy and make clients happy. 

Sanan Sanani

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