Jul 12, 2016

Book Report: The Compound Effect

I have been reading a lot lately. I read year round, but sometimes, I devour book after book because I'm in search of ideas. These times come when I am in a period of reinvention. This happens about every five years or so, which is pretty understandable. How many five year segments does a person get in life? Maybe ten or so after one is all out of formal schooling. 

Ten years ago, I started getting really into improv. Before that I was a gigging actor and sketch comedy guy. Five years back I drifted into solo performance big time. One thing kind of leads to another. I don't reinvent the wheel, I just pick a variation on a larger path (as a theatre artist who specializes in narratives) and see how far I can go. I'm not a hundred percent sure what is coming next, but I know I'm restless for new horizons. 

One of the books that I've picked up recently has been Darren Hardy's THE COMPOUND EFFECT.

I had never heard of Darren Hardy before. Apparently, he's a motivational dude comparable to Tony Robbins. He shows up in his own book preseting himself as quite a big deal, which was initially a bit of a put-off, but once I got past that, I found he has a lot of worthwhile things to say. 

The book doesn't break new ground, but the benefit of it is putting all the common sense stuff we need to hear, but often forget, all in one place.

  • Track everything.
  • There's no substitute for hard work.
  • Cut out distractions.
  • Figure out why you are doing what you are doing
  • Small, incremental changes add up over time.
  • Don't quite, keep going.

So, nothing groundbreaking. But Hardy puts all these things together in such a simple, accessible way. 

The things that I took away from the book have really stuck with me and I have started applying them directly to my life. For instance, Hardy reiterates that little seemingly inconsequential decisions really do either add to one's life or take away from it. 

For instance, he uses the example of three friends. One starts eating slightly less (like 125 calories less) per day by doing small things such as having one less soda or switching mustard in place of mayo on his sandwiches. A second friend doesn't make any change in his diet at all. A third friend puts a bit more luxury into his life. He puts a bigger screen television in his house and fixed himself cocktails in the evenings. After a few months, there was no noticeable difference between the friends. But after 30 months, the three friends had very different outcomes. The first guy had lost 20-something pounds. The second fiend didn't change at all. The third friend was 20-something pounds heavier. Just from the small, seemingly irrelevant actions, the compound effect yields drastically different results in the long-run.

Hardy goes on to point out, if friend one and three had stopped their actions after a short time, they would have seen very little effect. The big change happens in the long term. So, keep going. The take-away is to keep going.

I totally fall into the trap of instant gratification from time to time. I have been known to throw up my hands when I don't see results. Ultimately, I have never gotten that far in those areas where I expect a lot of apparent results in a short time. 

I have decided to switch my basic belief system in regards to this. If I have faith that the compound effect will work, that given enough time and pressure things are bound to change regardless of short-term noticeable evidence. 

The last big take-away for me is Hardy's insistence on direction over goals. Setting a goal and mechanically heading toward it in perfect measured ways is really difficult to do. But knowing that you are heading in a general positive direction towards what you want is enough. All the benefit in the long-run but without the stress and pressure. Again, small, incredmental changes add up to seismic shifts. The compound effect in action.

Recommended. You'll need to be ready for this book, or in need of it, but it is jam-packed with useful stuff.

NOTE: See more books that have impacted me on my Book Shelf page.

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