Compound Your Success (how small steps lead to massive returns)

Do you have a big goal?: Do you want to make six figures this year? Run a marathon? Grow your business to seven figures? Quit Smoking?

Big goals can be exciting and intimidating, but here’s a simple way to ensure your success: Use the Compound Effect. The Compound Effect is a term coined by Darren Hardy who wrote a book by the same name that examines how to harness the law of cause and effect.  The law of cause and effect is the relationship between events and actions, and how one has an effect on the other.  In short, a repeated small action can lead up to a big result.

Consider if you write one page of your book each day, at the end of the year you’ll have a 365-page book. If you change one healthy habit (more water, less alcohol, more exercise) in 12 months the improvements could be eliminating a disease risk, less sick days, more energy. But sometimes the little choices seem so insignificant we miss them altogether.

In Hardy’s book he reminds the reader that doing small steps every day leads to the biggest results, but in order to achieve them it’s important to keep the momentum and consider what “information you are bringing in” as well i.e. tv shows you watch, the news, social media, conversations, your network. Not only do these activities have a compounding effect on our outlook “everything is bad, people are horrible, I’m not good enough” but can take up time that can be used to reach our goals.  For example, if you check social media just twice a day for 10 minutes that’s 20 minutes per day and 140 minutes (2hours 20 minutes) per week. More astonishing that’s 122 hours a year that you could be investing in a new hobby, a new business venture or time with your family. Bump your usage up to 1 hour a day and that’s 31 hours a month or over 15 days per year!  So, a small action can actually be choosing not to do something. 

Time Audit: One way to get a grasp on what we are focusing on is to do a time audit.  Literally, keep track of how you spend your days for one full week. The easiest way to do this is to keep track of each time you switch tasks. If you notice that you are task-switching a lot that’s a habit that is an efficiency drain (see our article on Switch Costs).  Like keeping a food journal that points out how often you sneak a handful of chips, a time log can highlight how much time you are really spending on certain projects, travel time or transition times. Time audits can be illuminating especially when someone says, “I spend all week in meetings.” First, is that true or is it really only 4 hours out of your week? Start with a sample of true information and then make conscious decisions on where you spend your time from there.

1% Rule: Another way to consider the Compound Effect is using the 1% rule.  Consider if you got 1% better every day at a certain task.  1% better speaker, 1% better athlete, 1% improved product.  1% seems simple, almost too easy, and it’s such a small number it almost seems insignificant. However, consider if your business performed 1% better every day. That would mean that at the end of the year you would have a 365% increase!  What bottom line, bank account or athletic improvement wouldn’t love that kind of return!? Now of course the ultimate result is rarely over 300% but even if you fell short and were only 75% better, that is a massive improvement.

In short, what we do on a regular basis adds up. 

We all can appreciate compound interest when we open a savings account in the beginning the gains are almost invisible but over 10 years or even 50 years compounding interest can be significant. In fact, if you deposit one penny and that amount doubles every day, in 31 days you will have over $10million! Seems impossible but it does not! (see the math here )

What bank account wouldn’t love that type of return?!

What Small Step You Can Make? What is something that you and your team can do each day (or even each week) that will move you 1% closer to your target goal?   What small act can you do every day or even double down on every day to reach your goals this year?  What is a behavior that you can stop doing that isn’t supporting your big goal?  Are you willing to do a time audit and see where and how you really spend your time? Send us your ideas.  Take one small step and email us and we’ll even help keep you accountable

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

Carrie D Clarke

Carrie D. Clarke, J.D. is lawyer turned business coach and personal strategist. Carrie collaborates with small business owners and executives to increase their profits and accomplish goals by focusing on values, applying evidence-based strategies and enhancing their strengths. Carrie is available for speaking engagements, 1:1 coaching and custom workshops.