The Compound Effect

Stumbled onto a brilliant book by Darren Hardy called The Compound Effect that really highlights the power of the small moments.

I know I have a tendency to focus too much on the big picture and the big moments — typically discounting the minutia and the detail.

But what we forget about is the compound effect. The result of work over time — weeks, months, years, and decades. And we overlook it because we think on too short of a horizon.

We see Bill Gates, and we forget about all of the compounded work that went into preparing him for the success he attained.

He didn’t just luck into being a computer science wiz. He spent every waking hour of his life working on his craft. He took any chance he could get to work on and practice programming. He spent 5 minutes here and 20 minutes there — any moment he could get.

And over the course of 1, 2 or 5 years, don’t you think this starts to compound? Doesn’t this work day after day start to add up? Of course it does.

Yesterday at Home Depot I was checking out, and I happened to notice the cashier was distracted playing Wheel of Fortune on her phone. She was very polite, looked up and proceeded to check me out. As she hands me her receipt, she picks up her phone and gets right back at it.

I don’t mean to pick at her, but more let her serve as an example. What do you do in your moments of freedom? Sure we all want to just play games sometimes. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Just make sure you understand it all adds up.

Let’s just use some simple numbers in her case. Let’s say in total on a 8 hour shift, she ends up playing 30 minutes of Wheel of Fortune on her phone each day. And let’s just assume, she works a full time job and will do so for the next 5 years. That’s almost 40,000 minutes of Wheel of Fortune time.

Now what about her coworker across the way. With a self-help book in her hand, reading and studying at every waking moment. And in that same scenario, after 5 years, she will have accumulated the same 40,000 minutes but in a much different way.

Do we see how this starts to add up? The drip, drip, drip leads to the compound effect over time. And this starts to separate us. 20 years from now — you will be a product of the compounded time you spend today.

We tend to view the world on shorter time horizons. But every decision you make daily adds up. And compounds over time.

Just make sure the compound effect is working in your favor.