012 | The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

“Name your reward,” said the king.

The old sage sat in silence. He knew the king was in his debt, but he knew something else as well... he would never have the king's ear again. He pondered his response thoughtfully. He'd been granted one wish, but what would it be?

A smile crept across his weathered face. The sage glanced up at the king, sitting atop his throne.

“Rice,” he said. My reward shall be paid in rice.”

The king nodded his head in agreement. “In what measure?” he asked.

The sage motioned to the corner of the great hall, to an old, dusty chessboard. ”Place one grain of rice on the first square,” he said. “Then, place two grains on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and so double the grains in such manner for each square, until all sixty-four are accounted for. This, my good king, shall be my reward.”

“Your wish is my command,” the king replied. “It will be done as you have spoken.”

The king left the great hall, curious why the old man would ask for such a small reward. The sage, however, walked silently back to his cottage, knowing full well that his reward would be anything but small. For the sixty-fourth square alone, the king now owed him 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 grains of rice - about 210 billion tons.

And so goes the parable of the sage and his rice. The moral of the story? Never underestimate the compound effect.

In his New York Times bestseller, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy uncovers the power of habits, and explains that it's small, repeated choices over a long period of time - not magic pills or lightning in a bottle - that shape who we are.

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


We often think self-help books provide tactics to help us move toward a desired outcome, but as Hardy explains, the Compound Effect is a root cause of our undesired outcomes too. It works both ways. Undesired outcomes are often the result of a series of choices - bad choices - that have managed to become bad habits.

“Nobody intends to become obese, go through bankruptcy, or get a divorce, but often (if not always) those consequences are the result of a series of small, poor choices,” says Hardy.

So if our habits have such a profound impact on our long-term trajectory, then what can we do to get on the right path? Where do we start?

Hardy’s method is simple… Start small, and then, just keep going. Day after day, week after week, grain after grain. Just. Keep. Going.

“Earning success is hard,” says Hardy. “The process is laborious, tedious, sometimes even boring. 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.”

In this marathon we call life, every one of us would prefer to be "the hare". We want things to happen quickly. We want success - whatever that means - and we want it yesterday. In The Compound Effect, Hardy implores us to forsake the hare and instead strive to be the tortoise. It's the slow, small steps that make the difference in the end.

So now, Mr. or Mrs. Tortoise, it's time for you to start your engines. If you need a little nudge to get you going, here’s a good first step…

Buy this book.

Then read page one.


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