Book Summary: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

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This post + podcast combination covers the first three Big Ideas from The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy (Get the full version of this book summary here)

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy PDF

The Compound Effect is about how small actions, executed consistently, can lead to hugely successful results, both in business and in life. The book was written by Darren Hardy, a guy who knows more than a thing or two about the topic of success, seeing as though he's spent the vast majority of his career at the helm of SUCCESS Magazine. As the publisher and founding editor of SUCCESS, Darren's learned that the decisions we make on a daily basis have a direct impact on the direction and ultimate success (or lack thereof) that we experience in our lives.

Enter: The Compound Effect, a book that gives you practical every day steps to create real change in your life. Darren wrote this book as a guide on how to take ownership of your own life through the small decisions you make on a daily basis. 

Tweetable summary

The tiny choices you make today can lead to the successes and failures you experience tomorrow. Small steps and slight changes lead to major progress and massive results. (click-to-tweet)

Here’s what you’ll learn about in this summary:

  • What is the compound effect and how can you use it to gain success in any and every area of your life?
  • How the choices and habits, you may not even know you are making, can either inhibit or accelerate your future.
  • How to keep your momentum going.

Crucial Quotes 

New or more information is *not* what you need—a new plan of *action* is. It’s time to create new behaviors and habits that are oriented away from sabotage and toward success. It’s that simple.

By the end of this book, or even before, I want you to know in your bones that your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time.

We are all self-made men and women, but only the successful take credit for it.

3 Big Ideas  from The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy


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

This idea behind The Compound Effect is that small consistent action over a long period of time has greater pay offs than intensely large but short changes. 

Hardy gives us a simple formula to explain:


Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this idea:

  • A single penny that doubles every day for 31 days has a larger payoff than taking $3 million in cash today.
  • Or take three friends who start off in relatively the same place—one makes no changes (good or bad), one adds a weekly beer to his diet and watches TV on his downtime, another makes some small changes like eliminating 200 calories a day and reading 10 pages of a good book daily… Which of these three people do *you* think end up in a better place two years down the road? 

Bottom line? The small choices we make everyday impact the results we experience in the future. At first, we won’t see the difference, 5 months or even a year goes by and everything may look relatively the same. But give it two or three years and the differences can blow you away.

So, what are some small choices you could be making on a daily basis, that could compound into positive changes for you in the future? Write them down, and get committed. 

2. Be Diligent and Consistent

The most challenging aspect of the Compound Effect is that we have to keep working away for a while, consistently and efficiently, before we can begin to see the payoff.

Repeating simple daily disciplines has big payoffs while repeating simple errors in judgement creates problems and leads you away from success. To find radical change in every area of your life, you only need to take a series of tiny steps, but you need to do so consistently over a long period of time to improve your life. 

You won’t find success sitting on your couch wishing for it.

You’ve got to do the hard work and stay consistent at it even when you aren’t seeing results. 

Here’s another important thing to keep in mind: It can get easy to take success for granted and start slacking off once you start seeing positive results… Don’t do this! You will take major steps backwards in doing so that will be difficult to regain. Instead of slacking off when you start seeing positive results, take it as a sign that you’re moving in the right direction, and then, put things in high gear and keep up the momentum!

Let go of the need for instant results. Success is not fast. Change is hard, be patient with yourself.

Actionable insight(s):

Grab a pen and pad and write down your answers to the following questions:

  • What are some excuses you currently hold on to that you know aren’t contributing to your growth and success? Commit to overcoming them through hard work and personal development.
  • What are some small steps you can start taking everyday to shift your life in a better direction?
  • What are some small things you can stop doing that might be hindering your success?


Choices are at the root of every one of your results. Each choice starts a behavior that over time becomes a habit.

You must begin by becoming aware of the choices you are making and how those choices impact your future. Things don’t just happen to you in life, they happen because somewhere along the line you made a choice that led to that moment. 

Our biggest challenge isn’t that we make bad choices willingly but that we make choices based on habits we’ve created. 

We “sleepwalk” through choices unaware that we even make them. Just as The Compound Effect can work for you as you increase small, smart choices it can work against you (and probably has been) in the very same small, seemingly insignificant choices you make on a daily basis.

One important choice that MUST be incorporated in a steady diet is the choice to be grateful. Choosing gratitude influences other areas of our lives and makes us better people, better at relationships, more pleasant to be around, and generally happier about life.

Actionable insight(s):

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