The Compound Effect: Summary & Review

The Compound Effect” states that success is the consequence of consistent practice and the accumulation of small daily improvements that add up over the long run.

Bullet Summary

  • Focus on doing the daily activities that move you toward your goal
  • Build momentum and results will start to compound
  • Consistency is the key to compound results

Full Summary

Darren says most people get discouraged when they don’t see immediate results. But that’s the wrong mindset because:

Constant Actions Towards Your Goals

Great results require constant, daily effort spread over time.
The author suggests that you exchange the “right now mindset” with a mindset of daily micro achievements that are consistent with your goals and core values.

This was really the key part for me and I couldn’t help but nod along. Also, read Grit by Angela Duckworth on the need for consistency and Start With WHY by Simon Sinek for actions in line with your core values (your WHY).

When To Be Patient 

Since daily actions seldom yield immediately visible results, it begs an important question: How do you know you’re on the right path? How do you know you’re just not wasting your time?
To answer that question you should measure your growth, not your final results.

Since small daily steps toward your goals rarely give you huge results, you shouldn’t focus much on the final results when you’re starting it out and grinding it out. But you should focus on the growth.
If you can spot a growing trend, then you’re probably on the right path.

My Note: this is very important indeed because small growing trends usually don’t yield positive results until they reach a tipping point. And that’s when you start seeing the results and your daily efforts start paying off. And that’s when you start overcoming all those who chose the easy path.
This is a similar concept applied to disruptive technologies in Bold by Peter Diamandis.

Daily Small Steps of Discipline

You don’t get too huge of success easily: success is daily discipline and doing the hard thing every day.

Hardy says you should focus on positive daily habits that let you take every day small incremental steps forward. If you’re straggling there you can focus on the beginning and the end. Start and end the day with positive actions toward the attainment of your goals.

And the author says that you need habits because willpower by itself is not enough (read here the contentious science of willpower).
To learn more about habits also check out The Power of Habit.

Daily Compound

If you focus daily on improving and small daily steps as you move towards your goal, your effectiveness will compound over time.
The steps you take daily don’t seem that significant. But over time, they will build upon each other.
Years from now, you will look back and be amazed at what you’ve achieved.

Consistency is The Compound’s Enabler

The author says that there’s one thing that matters the most and that trumps the intensity or length of your efforts. And that is consistency. It’s consistency that builds momentum and enables the compound effect to achieve the unachievable.

Consistency builds the momentum to achieve the unachievable

Obstacles Are The Way

Darren says that obstacles can spur your growth. The risk though is that you might feel accomplished after the big achievement and fall back on your old habits.
The key indeed is to keep going once you have overcome the obstacles. Also, read The Obstacle is The Way.


Unproven, technically untrue concept: often progress “adds up”, doesn’t “compound”
The idea of linking the financial property of compound interest to self-development is catchy and sexy.
Yet, I don’t think it works exactly the same way.
Not in many areas of self-development, at least. Your self-development does move you constantly forward, but it seldom “compounds” over time.

Real-Life Applications

Measure Growth 
I found the idea of measuring growth instead of final results enlightening. That’s a powerful concept that by itself might be worth twice the price of the book.

Align Your Actions to Your WHY
And here’s another key nugget of wisdom: make sure your daily actions are aligned with your goals and morals. Do what makes you fulfilled, do what moves you towards your goals.

Boring Consistency
It’s the daily grind and boring daily tasks that will propel you to great success.


The Compound Effect is an interesting, easy, and potentially enlightening read.

Frankly, I don’t fully buy into the “compound” idea.
At least, not for many self-development activities -ie.: healthy and fitness, knowledge, social skills, etc., etc.-.

Yet, they might apply in some fields.
For example, in some types of business growth and tipping-point market penetration dynamics.

Furthermore, the principle of “staying at it” is crucial in many more areas, whether or not the progress “compounds” or simply “adds up”.

And some smaller nuggets of wisdom -like measuring growth- can make the difference between you giving up and you soldiering on to success.

To be frank, you probably don’t need the whole book after this summary.
But the full book might help to drive the key concept home.

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