One of the most impactful books I ever read was The Compound Effect, a NY Times Bestseller written by Darren Hardy. He is the founder of Success magazine and a mentor to Anthony Robbins.
Hardy defines the compound effect in his book as “The strategy of reaping huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions. You cannot improve something until you measure it. Always take 100 percent responsibility for everything that happens to you.” Those three short, profound sentences completely changed my perspective on everything personal and professional.
It brought me back to my childhood whenever I was facing a seemingly unbelievable or unattainable task, my Grandmother’s wise advise was, “approach it like you would if you were to eat an elephant… focus only on one bite at a time, and not the size of the elephant.” If only I knew how to apply that great advice to my life back then. Make’s total sense to me now and feel that this is the heart of my procrastination problem.
As a specialist trainer, I have witnessed many professional athletes over the past 3 decades face this same struggle and observed the one’s who are successful and the ones who failed to make the shift. Focusing only on the total amount of weight we need to lose (the elephant) instead of the daily steps (the bites), is one of the most prevalent reasons for diet success rates being so low. I have come to find that it is simply Human Nature to quickly shift our focus to the enormous task at hand which instills an overwhelming vision of pain, suffering and exhaustion not to mention the discouraging daily scale checks causing us to lose hope and quit before we ever really get started. The athletes that succeed however accept it as a permanent lifestyle, their job, a priority in their daily routine. No matter if they feel like it or not because most often it’s the not. One of the best I have ever trained explained to me that he feels 99% of his daily routine is just getting out of bed and to his workout, once there his instincts take over. What if I focused like that, just get out of bed and start walking? No judgement? No goal of going 5 miles. No pressure of everything being perfect but simply, get my butt out of bed and get started?
If I can change my perception of weight loss and state of mind, then I have just upped my chances of success exponentially.
This is where the Power of the Compound Effect is at its best; The Compound Effect Formula described by Albert Einstein when defining his theory of Compounded interest was;
Small Choices + Consistency + Time = Significant Results.
When we fail in our pursuit of better health, we eliminate all of the formula except for the significant results part. How can we get significant results from doing nothing? Let’s break down these 3 simple but profound sentences:
The strategy of reaping huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions
If my strategy is to simply do a little more than I did yesterday, over time will make a huge impact on my success and produce SIGNIFICANT RESULTS. If I walk for just 5 minutes per day (seems pretty small and insignificant) and increase that by one minute every day for the next 7 days I will be at 11 minutes per day of walking by the end of the week. Now imagine how much more walking that was than the previous week or weeks you had. If I keep this up for another week I will be up to 18 minutes at the end of the second week. From 5 minutes to 18 minutes in just two weeks is, a significant result. Now where will I be at the end of 24 weeks? 172 minutes. In reality, by this time, I will be running instead of walking and have more strenuous workouts but more importantly I have formed a NEW HABIT. I will have created a NEW LIFESTYLE and not a temporary diet.
You cannot improve something until you measure it.
Tracking results is the only way you will know where you stand and when to adjust. In the example above, you are increasing your effort daily but knowing what that effort is and where you adjusted is what gives you the motivation to continue. Tracking lets you know when you are successful and gives you that reward feeling. Knowing where you fail, you can return back to the mental state of Compound Effect to adjust your commitment without the feeling of “it’s over, I failed again.” You just do more than you did yesterday and before you know it you have created a Lifestyle which is permanent vs. temporary. It takes on average, 21 days to form a new habit, so daily improvements for 21 days will be the habit we are looking for.
Always take 100 percent responsibility for everything that happens to you
This is a huge one. I can always trace back ultimate failure in any athlete to this one sentence. The athletes that break through plateaus, hardships and setbacks are the ones that accept that it is up to them to get to the next level and failure is not an option. If there was someone or an unfortunate circumstance that put them behind, they brush it off, knowing that their ultimate success will be their payback. They see failures as opportunities and use those failures as motivation fuel to work even harder. That attitude ONLY comes from the athletes that 100% accept personal responsibility. We call this, “owning your mistakes.” The athletes that fail always have an excuse, always have someone against them, always have a chip on their shoulder that they allow to push them down instead of using that chip to get motivated like the successful athletes do. They just wuss out because the world is against them, the man is holding them down, they just have bad luck, blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine… puke. Sickening to know that our minds are much more powerful than our bodies yet we continue to allow ourselves to believe that we have no control. Own it.
90% of the battle is just showing up. Own your challenges, Own your setbacks, Own your life.
Have a blessed week and keep taking small bites out of this fat ass elephant 😊
Blake La Grange