The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Book in A Few Sentences

The Compound Effect says that small, daily actions multiplied over time create tremendous results and radical change. Instead of sprinting and failing, take the long view and be the tortoise and do the mundane, unsexy things over and over until you’ve built the life you want. But first, you need to take 100 percent responsibility for your life because only you can save yourself.

The Compound Effect summary

This is my book summary of The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. My summaries are casual and include what I believe are the most important ideas, insights and lessons from the book, along with direct quotes from the author.

This book is about what it takes to earn real success.

Hard work

  • There are no shortcuts. Earning success is hard work.
  • You don’t need more knowledge. You need a plan of action.
  • That plan includes behaviors and habits that move you toward success.
  • Consistent, repeated action is the key to success.
  • Wherever you are weak, work harder.
  • The Compound Effect is the process of reaping tremendous results from small, seemingly trivial choices and actions.
  • “Small, smart choices + consistency + time = radical difference”
  • Blaming others is easy. Instead, look inside yourself and work on yourself.
  • Beneficial choices made consistently over time compound in your favor. Harmful decisions made consistently over time compound against you.
  • Sticking with the Compound Effect is challenging because the results are not immediate.
  • The qualities needed for success—hard work, discipline and good habits—aren’t sexy. That makes us susceptible to commercial quick-fix schemes.
  • We’ve forgotten what it takes to realize lasting success—grit, hard work, and fortitude.
  • “It’s a funny thing; the more I practice, the luckier I get.” — Arnold Palmer
  • It’s easy to think that good fortune like genetics and luck are the reasons for a top athlete’s success. But that’s only part of the story. What about all the bone-crushing drills, thousands of hours of practice, early mornings, late evenings, failures, loneliness, hard work and discipline it took to become No. 1?
  • “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.”


  • Our future is the culmination of all the choices we make between now and then.
  • Depending on which choices we make, we will have the life we want or one we don’t want.
  • Your biggest challenge is that your choices are unconscious and habitual.
  • Choices made consciously start with awareness. Once you become aware, you can begin making beneficial choices rather than un-beneficial.
  • “How many of my behaviors have I not ‘voted on’? What am I doing that I didn’t consciously choose to do, yet continue to do every day?”
  • Most people think they live responsibly. But they point fingers, blame, and expect something or someone to save them.
  • “You alone are responsible for what you do, don’t do, or how you respond to what’s done to you.”
  • “The day you graduate from childhood to adulthood is the day you take full responsibility for your life.” — Jim Rohn
  • Change starts with awareness. Without awareness, there is no change.
  • One way to develop awareness is to track every action in an area of your life you want to change. You will see what you are doing, what you aren’t doing, and what you need to be doing to change that area of your life for the better.
  • “What’s simple to do is also simple not to do.” — Jim Rohn
  • The difference between successful and unsuccessful people comes down to this: successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not.
  • The more awareness you cultivate, the better and more refined your daily choices become. And your choices will increasingly align more closely with your intentions and values.
  • “It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.”
  • Remember, it’s never too late to begin your Compound Effect journey and start benefitting from small, daily actions compounded over time.
  • The most important thing to remember: start NOW. No matter how small, take the first step. Don’t think about the future or how small the action is; just focus on this action right here, right now. After all, every great act and adventure started with the first step.
  • “Your life is the product of your moment-to-moment choices.”


  • “Losing is a habit. So is winning.”
  • “We are what we repeatedly do.” — Aristotle
  • “Psychological studies reveal that 95 percent of everything we feel, think, do and achieve is a result of a learned habit!”
  • For routine tasks, habits are beneficial because they help minimize our use of conscious energy.
  • Whatever you lack in natural ability, you can make up for it with discipline, hard work and good habits.
  • Un-beneficial habits are borne out of our desire for immediate gratification.
    Indulging in unhelpful actions may appear harmless at the moment. But these seemingly innocent actions compounded over time become stubborn, problematic habits.
  • Don’t drift through life. Figure out what you want and choose to align your life in that direction.
  • Willpower is overrated. Instead, harness your “why-power.”
    When you know what you want and why you want it, you will be resolute and undeterred in your efforts.
  • Choices, actions and habits aligned to your purpose, core self and values = success.
  • Material things like cars and money are too superficial to recruit your whole self.
  • Motivation comes from a deeper place.
  • “…success without fulfillment is failure.”
  • Motivation comes from aligning your actions to your core values. Your core values are your internal roadmap, your personal North Star.
  • Extreme stress arises when our actions and behaviors do not align with our values.
  • We’re motivated by what we want and what we don’t want. If you don’t know what you want, start examining what you don’t want.
  • “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon…must inevitably come to pass.” — Paul J. Meyer
  • Choice + Behavior + Habit + Compounded = Goals
  • Believe what you do, not what you say.
  • The key to habits is awareness. Notice daily the practices you are developing.
  • Everyone hates the same things. Successful people do them anyway.


  • Create momentum one tiny step at a time. Progress may be slow, but once you get going, it gets easier.
  • “The greater the challenge, the more rigorous our routines need to be.”
  • Routines are potent. They are the easiest way to regulate our behavior.
  • Routines around habits and disciplines separate the most successful from everyone else.
  • The first step to routines is discovering what habits you want to develop.
  • Bookend your days with morning and evening routines. You can’t control what happens during the day, but you can control how your day starts and ends.
  • Evening routine: Compared to your plan for the day, how did it go? What do you need to carry over to tomorrow’s plan? Based on what showed up throughout the day, what else needs to be added? What’s no longer important and needs to be scratched out?”
  • Altering your routines from time to time keeps your life and motivations fresh.
  • Sunday night routine. Do a Relationship Review: 1) Share your appreciations for what your partner did that week 2) Rate your relationship on a scale of 1-10 over the past week 3) What would have made it a 10?
  • Doing too much too soon is a sure way to burnout and failure. “Winning the race is all about pace. Be the tortoise.”


  • There are three influences: What you think, people you spend time with, and your surroundings.
  • Your brain is programmed for survival, not happiness. To keep you safe, it is constantly scanning potential threats and finding the negative—scarce resources, corrupt politicians, climate change.
  • Stop reading and listening to the news. The news feeds off of the mind’s tendency toward negativity.
  • Whenever you have downtime like driving, listen to audiobooks and podcasts that provoke ideas and new ways of seeing, living and being.
    According to Harvard social psychologist Dr. David McClelland, up to 95% of our success and failure is determined by our “reference group.”
  • Jim Rohn believes we become the five people we hang out with the most.
  • “Who has the type of relationship I want? How can I spend (more time with that person? Who can I meet who can positively influence me?”
  • Get an “accountability partner,” and once a week, spend 30 minutes discussing the week’s wins, losses, fixes and “ah-has” and how you’re doing on your growth plans.
  • If you want to grow, ask several friends to answer the following questions honestly: “How do I show up for you? What do you think my strengths are? In what areas do you think I can improve? Where do you think I sabotage myself? What’s the one thing I can stop doing that would benefit me most? What’s the one thing I should start doing?”
  • “Mentoring is your true legacy. It is the greatest inheritance you can give to others.
  • And it should never end. It is why you get up every day. To teach and be taught.” — John Wooden
  • Create a positive environment for success. Clear out the clutter in your life—physical and psychic.
  • You get in life what you tolerate.


  • It’s not until you’re challenged with difficulty and temptation that you get to see how strong is your motivation and your habits and routines.
  • Is there anywhere in your life that you can do more when you hit the wall?
  • Instead of sending Christmas cards, send Thanksgiving cards appreciating the people in your life and what they mean to you.
  • Unused knowledge is useless.
  • Awareness uninvested is wasted.
  • “Motivation without action leads to self-delusion.”

Related Resources

Here's a list of resources, including authors, books, websites and concepts mentioned in The Compound Effect, which might be useful for future reading.

  • The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
  • Living Your Best Year Ever by Darren Hardy
  • Jim Rohn
  • Larry Bird
  • Anthony Robbins
  • Paul J. Meyer
  • Linda and Richard Eyre
  • Dr. David McClelland
  • John Wooden