The Compound Effect Book Summary, by Darren Hardy

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1-Page Summary of The Compound Effect


The 4-Hour Workweek encourages people to live a life that’s all about enjoying the moment, while still achieving big goals.

Many people wake up every day and say, “today is the day.” It’s the day they’ll lose weight, get a promotion, or achieve their dreams.

Then we go back to sleep and wake up the next day. We say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

But the problem isn’t our goals or ourselves, or even our attitude. The problem is that we think we can change everything overnight. We’re not likely to succeed and it’s dangerous because of how unlikely it is to happen.

The Compound Effect offers another path to success. It teaches you how to build up momentum and change bad habits into good ones, so that you can tackle your personal limits. After reading this book, you’ll learn what Arnold Schwarzenegger’s weight-lifting technique can teach you about success; how to build up momentum like Michael Phelps; and why aiming for the quickest possible successes can damage your health.

Big Idea #1: Results that happen quickly aren’t as gratifying as those that happen over time.

The desire for fast results is common in today’s world. However, people often forget that it can take a long time to achieve those results. It’s better to focus on the long-term rather than the short term because you’ll be able to see how your work pays off more effectively.

In this age of “I want it now!”, people eat fast food because cooking takes too long, go on a diet to lose weight in a week, and become restless if they’re not promoted within a year.

However, if we achieve our goals too quickly, the consequences can be bigger.

It’s not healthy to expect instant results. For example, if you don’t lose 20 pounds in a week, you might become disillusioned and think that your life will never get better. It is important to take small steps instead of trying to achieve big goals all at once. Scott used this strategy when he lost weight by cutting 125 calories from his diet each day, listening to self-improvement recordings during his commute, and walking a little extra every day.

The result? In 31 months, he lost 15 kilos and got a promotion at work.

The Compound Effect means that every decision we make affects our destiny. We have to work consistently before we can experience success, and then when we reach it, we need to maintain discipline or else all of our hard work will be for nothing. For example, many restaurants become popular because they do a good job at serving their customers in the beginning. But after some time has passed, they stop doing what got them there in the first place and suddenly no one goes there anymore.

It’s important to stay positive and keep going even when you don’t see immediate results. Here are some ways to achieve consistent success:

Big Idea #2: Make your dreams a daily reality.

Sometimes we don’t want to admit that our choices shape our destiny. We’re responsible for the consequences of those actions, even if they seem small or insignificant at the time. For instance, we can make poor decisions when eating healthy food and then end up ruining a day’s worth of good choices by making one bad decision. It’s hard to admit that you’re responsible for your own actions because it feels like luck is influencing those decisions. However, being lucky comes from knowing how to spot opportunities in order to take advantage of them so they’ll work out well for you in the long run.

You need to connect your decisions with the right motivation and goals in order to achieve success. You can do this by clearly defining what you want, which will help you focus on that goal. If there are no clear goals, then it’s hard to get motivated or find opportunities for achieving them. Your thoughts of positive actions will draw positive things toward you if there is a desire for those things within yourself (the Law of Attraction).

So, what does it mean to you?

Think about the goals you have set in business, health, spirituality, family and lifestyle. Think of all the attributes, behaviors and characteristics that will help you reach those goals. Then apply them to your everyday life by getting rid of old habits. List your bad habits so you can see when and where you act in a way that isn’t good for you. For example, if eating something sweet after a meal is necessary for you to feel satisfied at the end of each meal, eat some fruit or honey nearby instead of having something unhealthy like ice cream or candy. It also helps if there are people around us who share similar goals as we do because they can be patient with us while we try to achieve our goal(s).

Big Idea #3:

Create a Habit to Get Motivated

We’ve learned that making the right decisions is crucial to success. But how do you maintain those habits? You use The Big Mo, which helps you make the right decision for a long enough time so that you can fall into a natural rhythm of making good decisions. That will help you feel unstoppable!

The Big Mo is the most powerful driving force for success. It can help us achieve our goals and dreams. For example, Michael Phelps was only allowed to skip practice once in 12 years so he could go to a school dance, but all that practice led him to eight gold Olympic medals.

To keep momentum going, you have to make your healthy behavior a part of your daily routine. If it’s unrealistic for you to do everything in a short period of time, create an achievable plan that will help you ease into the change. Rather than working out for two hours every day, aim for three days per week and stick with it. It doesn’t matter how long you workout as much as showing up consistently.

To reach your goals, eliminate the things that distract you. For example, don’t watch TV or read the news. Instead listen to music or talk with a friend.

It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings. Sometimes, you have to change the environment in order to achieve your goals. People are very influential on our lives, so it’s good to keep supportive people around you.

Big Idea #4: In order to be successful, you need to embrace obstacles and challenges.

As you get better, there will come a time when you hit your limits. You’ll have to decide whether or not to stop and accept your current level of success, or keep pushing through those boundaries until you achieve more than what you thought was possible. Your habits will compound over time as well, so if you push yourself harder now, then it won’t be long before the results start coming in faster than ever before.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a famous bodybuilder, said that when you’re lifting weights and can’t do any more reps, lean back to access other muscle groups. This will enable you to add five or six more reps to your set.

If you’re working on losing weight, for example, and you hit a plateau because of stress at work or other factors that are difficult to deal with, don’t give up. You already know how to make good choices and build momentum without your old self-destructive behavior. So push through the difficulties and achieve your goal anyway; in addition to reaching your goal, you’ll also be even stronger as a result.

It’s always beneficial to push yourself a little more, go for a little longer and prepare a little better. That’s why the author invests in research about his clients before he delivers speeches on their behalf. The extra work he puts in makes him extremely popular with his clients.

If you want to be successful, then you need to exceed your limits.

Full Summary of The Compound Effect


The Compound Effect is a self help book by the publisher of SUCCESS magazine, Darren Hardy. The book describes how small attitude and behavior adjustments can result in significant life changes.

Small changes can have a huge impact over time. A small change could be cutting out junk food or spending more time on creative hobbies. If you practice these small changes long enough, they become habits and will help you in the future.

In order to change, you need to review your habits and decisions. Negative habits can be changed by tracking them and replacing them with positive ones. You can also change negative thinking with positivity from motivational media or conversations with a dedicated accountability partner.

In order to create lasting change, people must be motivated to do so. They should establish routines that will help them achieve their goals and track whether they’re doing what’s necessary to reach those goals. They also need to push themselves beyond normal limits in order for the changes they make stick.

Key Takeaways

Small changes in your life, when done consistently over time, can have a bigger impact than major ones that are only temporary. The effects can be positive or negative. Finding the right changes to make for a long term and lasting effect requires you to visualize what kind of person you want to be and identify what needs to change in order for that goal to become reality.

To see long-term changes from the Compound Effect, people must adopt a positive attitude about themselves and be grateful for what they have.

Most people don’t realize how much of an impact their habits have on their lives. Instead of making decisions based on habit, they should be more conscious about the choices they make and the consequences that come with those choices.

If you want to have a big impact, it’s important to establish daily rituals and weekly rhythms. You should also track your routines so that they’re consistent. It’s also important to control the influence of negative news media and pessimistic friends while consuming self-affirming media and associating with high achieving friends. In addition, you need to cultivate positive creativity by controlling the influence of negative news media and pessimistic friends while consuming self-affirming media and associating with high achieving friends. Furthermore, when pursuing a goal for long term results, you must be deeply committed but not noble in your motivations because being noble isn’t enough motivation on its own; rather than being motivated by nobility alone, achievers find their metaphorical wall of limitation (which is different from an actual physical wall) and push beyond it because they aspire for more than what is expected of them.

Key Takeaway 1: Minor adjustments to a person’s life, when practiced consistently over time, can have a longer lasting effect on quality of life than a major change that lasts only a brief period. The effects can be negative or positive.

The Compound Effect is the principle that a small change can have a big impact over time. It’s like how even if you’re off course by just a little bit when flying, it will make your destination completely different. The same thing applies to life; if we make just one error, it could change everything in our lives later on. On the other hand, even a minor improvement can compound and create significant improvements years later.

The Compound Effect works because each day’s effort builds on the previous day’s change. For example, if someone wants to learn a new language, they should start with simple words that are used often and then build up from there. If they do this consistently over time, it will be easier for them to understand more complicated lessons later on. This is also true of anything else we want to learn – starting at the beginning level is important so you can absorb information before moving onto something harder or forgetting what you learned entirely. It might take longer than a quick-fix class that teaches people everything in one month, but it will stick with them longer and help them better understand the material as well as continue learning about their subject throughout their life.

Key Takeaway 2: Finding the changes that must be made to create a lasting positive impact requires visualizing the kind of person someone wants to be in the long term and deciding what must be learned, what habits must be broken, and what routines must be established to reach that goal.

A lot of goal setting is based on a person’s accomplishments, not their vision. A person needs to imagine what kind of person they want to be in the future and then figure out how they can get there. This way, readers will know what it takes for them to become that type of person and whether or not the accomplishment aligns with their core values. Having this vision of the future if they reach their goals provides more long-term motivation and allows people to decide what other accomplishments are needed for them to achieve those goals.

For example, a New Year’s resolution might be to lose weight. However, that goal is too vague and doesn’t give the person any direction or motivation to achieve it. Instead, they should decide how much weight they want to lose and then select a number of workouts per week based on that number. For instance, if someone wants to lose only five pounds in six months by working out two extra times per week and cutting down on junk food, their goals are attainable with some hard work. If someone wants to lose fifty pounds in six months by exercising four hours each day without eating anything besides vegetables for the first three weeks of January (which would make them sick), then those goals are not realistic because they would have no energy left over for other activities like work or school.

Many self-improvement experts advise people to visualize their goals. It helps them stay motivated during a difficult journey. For example, women who want to get fit for their wedding day could put a picture of their dress where they’ll see it every day and remind themselves why they’re working so hard. Anyone trying to work hard for a bonus could find and pin up pictures of what they will buy with the money, like a car. In each case, the message is that you must keep working towards your goal even when it’s very difficult because you’ll eventually achieve your goal if you do all that work.

Key Takeaway 3: To experience long term change from the Compound Effect, people must adopt the attitudes of gratitude, positivity about qualities of the self, and personal responsibility for everything that happens.

People who are pessimistic, negative or blame others for their own failures will not be successful. They need to believe in themselves and have confidence that they can achieve something great. If they don’t think they can accomplish anything, then it’s unlikely that they’ll take any risks or try to control their fate. People should always take responsibility for everything that happens in their lives even if someone else causes the problem because trusting them was a mistake.

High achievers may not always seem to be the most confident people in their lives. They were, however, very confident about achieving their goals and making a difference. For example, Sally Ride was the first woman in space but faced discrimination because of her gender. Alan Turing was an optimist who used his mathematical expertise to crack the Enigma code during World War II and end it early.

Gratitude can be a powerful motivator. It can help you achieve your goals, and it can also help you maintain positivity when dealing with challenges along the way to achieving those goals. This might seem counterintuitive because gratitude often involves thinking about things that are good in your life right now, which is not what someone trying to change something about themselves would want to do. However, gratitude helps cultivate optimism because it reminds us of what we should never lose sight of during difficult times—the important things in our lives that don’t need changing as we work toward achieving our goal. For example, if you’re working hard on improving your income so your children will be able to go to college one day, then you might find yourself feeling grateful for them and their future happiness or success even though money is tight right now. That kind of gratitude could motivate you through the tough times as long as it doesn’t blindside or distract from the task at hand: finding a better job so they’ll have more opportunities later on in life!

Key Takeaway 4: Most people are unaware of the habits they have formed and the impact of those habits on their lives. Instead of making decisions based on habit, people should be active participants in decision making.

When we make decisions, especially ones that are not habitual, our brains often take short cuts to reduce the amount of power needed for making those choices. Sometimes this is helpful; it makes preparing ourselves easier in the morning. Other times these habits can be harmful because they lead us to make unhealthy food and drink choices at work or even during celebrations with friends. However, if we want to take control of our decision-making process, we need to recognize when a decision is being made and then track how well each choice leads us toward achieving our goals.

Some of the worst habits that people can have are those that endanger their health. A well-known example is smoking, which has long-term effects and a compounding effect on your health. If you don’t break this habit, it will result in lung cancer as well as plaque buildup in your blood vessels and mouth, jaw and throat cancers. Breaking the habit has instant benefits to your health but like any other bad habit, it’s hard to reverse. Other behaviors might not seem like habits but they are just as ingrained in someone’s life. For instance, if someone rarely leaves home without putting on sunscreen or wearing a seatbelt while driving then these are actually bad habits because they put one at risk of skin cancer or death from car accidents respectively.

Decisions that may not be intentional, but are influenced by other people’s actions include getting another beer at the bar because everyone else is still drinking. Someone who wants to stop drinking might order a drink because they want to fit in with their friends or family members and don’t feel comfortable being the only one who doesn’t have anything to drink. They could avoid this situation in the future by choosing more health-conscious friends or spending time with them less often so that they’re not exposed as much to alcohol.

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Key Takeaway 5: Creating the needed momentum for small changes to have a big impact requires establishing daily rituals, weekly and monthly rhythms, and tracking systems to check routines for consistency.

A person cannot expect to make a small improvement consistently without deciding on how often it should happen, when in the day it should occur, and how often to measure progress toward the goal. Once that is decided upon, they need to determine if it will be something done every day or only once a week. Tracking how often the change actually happens allows someone to decide whether they need to adjust their goals or simply try harder next time.

A person who wants to save for retirement may have a great strategy from the beginning, having determined what percentage of their income can go into a retirement account and which kind of account fits their needs best. For the first few years they will make regular transfers without much thought. However, if circumstances change later on it will be important to track that rhythm and whether it still fits their needs. If they lose a source of income or get a raise tracking the account might reveal that less money should go in or more money should come out depending on how much is needed at that point in time.

Common advice states that the best time to work out is in the morning because people are less likely to be tired or busy at that time. However, this schedule does not fit everyone’s needs and schedules. For example, parents might need to wake up their children for school and themselves for work at different times, making it hard to find a good time during the day when they can both exercise. Also, some people prefer exercising after eating lunch instead of before breakfast. Moreover, setting a specific schedule will help them stick with working out on a regular basis regardless of how they feel. Other things one might do include drinking water regularly throughout the day; also seeing a personal trainer once per week; preparing healthy meals at home several times per week; and looking online for recipes once every month or so.

Key Takeaway 6: Controlling the influence of negative news media and pessimistic friends while consuming self-affirming media and associating with high-achieving friends cultivates positive creativity.

Media consumption can be a negative force in someone’s life if they’re exposed to too much news and media. However, it could also be beneficial for some people who are trying to learn more about the world around them. People should spend their time wisely by learning from books or lectures rather than spending all day watching cable news channels. Friends and coworkers can also act as negative influences on one’s life, even if having them feels like a benefit at first. Even a very supportive friend full of negativity otherwise can hurt someone’s chances of creating lasting change in their lives because they have so many bad habits that rub off on others. Spending less time with those friends and more time with people you aspire to become is always good advice when trying to improve your character or lifestyle choices.

It may seem like a contradiction to think that the news media can be both a positive and negative force. However, from one perspective, it’s clear that most people don’t need to know about world issues in order to make decisions. For instance, we would all live our lives in exactly the same way if we didn’t know about oil prices per barrel or how much gas costs at the pump. Repetitive headlines on TV news tickers and reiterations of facts are just wastes of time for people who usually have few decisions involving world politics. The key is finding the right balance between getting enough news while avoiding unnecessary details and repetition which takes up too much time. That balance will vary depending on what you do for work; activists or reporters might need far more exposure than restaurant owners do.

Cutting time with friends may seem harsh, but for the same reason a person might minimize news consumption, some friendships can cause more harm than benefit. A toxic friend undermines progress and optimism, whereas an inefficient friend requires too much time to maintain a relationship that doesn’t provide enough benefits. Therefore, it’s important to consider how much time is appropriate for each friendship so that they’re mutually beneficial and will help you achieve your goals.

Key Takeaway 7: The motivation to pursue a goal for the long term must be deeply held, but does not need to be noble.

Hardy points to Anthony Hopkins as an example of someone who wanted to overcome the labels he received in school. He accomplished this goal by becoming a famous actor, and then used his wealth to help others. People with goals can achieve them if they have strong motivations for achieving those goals, even if their motivations are not necessarily noble or moral; it’s only important that they’re able to accomplish what they set out to do.

Motivation is different for everyone. Some people already know what motivates them, but others need to find it. Motivation can be internal or external. For example, an overweight person might have a heart attack and decide to lose weight because of that experience. Their motivation will come from within themselves at that point, whereas before they might not have had the same level of motivation because they didn’t feel like it was necessary for their health’s sake.

The advice means that if you want to lose weight and improve your health, then it’s fine to use a romantic rival as motivation. If the desire for a luxurious lifestyle is enough to drive consistent change, then that’s also okay.

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Key Takeaway 8: Achievers find their metaphorical wall of limitation and push beyond it, always aspiring to more than is expected of them.


Many experts advise that people shouldn’t think of their maximum potential as a limitation. Instead, they should push past it to become stronger and more competitive. Arnold Schwarzenegger was an example of this principle in action when he became the world’s most famous bodybuilder by pushing past his limits.

Many people believe that they can’t learn new things beyond a certain age. For example, some women think that they’re incapable of learning math or science because of their gender and ethnic minorities think that sports are not for them because of their ethnicity. However, these limits are just excuses and prejudices. They really aren’t true limits at all. With great motivation, you can overcome any limit with hard work and dedication to your goals.

If you consistently exceed expectations, it will become the new normal. At that point, exceeding expectations is more likely to be an improvement over everyone else’s normal and one step closer to even greater personal achievement.

Book Structure

In The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy uses a casual tone to relate to the reader. He often writes using second person perspective and common metaphors or similes. Hardy includes many anecdotes from his experience setting goals and trying to accomplish them, including stories of himself and others he knows personally. He also includes historical examples from civil rights icons and business gurus, as well as quotes by notable people from interviews in SUCCESS magazine. There are also parables that have clear moral messages but no specific cultural or religious origin.

Throughout the book, there are examples that illustrate the concepts discussed in each chapter. The chapters vary in their structure and focus. Some chapters contain advice that is not directly related to the core idea of “the compound effect,” such as portions of the book about media consumption. The advice given is vague, mainly centered around believing in “the compound effect.” There are action items at the end of each chapter and a set of worksheets for readers to use if they wish.

About the Author

Darren Hardy is the CEO and publisher of SUCCESS magazine. He wrote The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster to help people who want to become entrepreneurs. His book was inspired by Tony Robbins’ and Jim Rohn’s philosophies on entrepreneurship, which are quoted in his book.

The Compound Effect Book Summary, by Darren Hardy

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