Success is the result of your cumulative decisions and actions combined with your persistence.
At Kahuna Accounting our mantra is this:
“We achieve our Victories through the Victories of those we Serve!”
With that in mind, it’s worth taking a look at what victory means. It’s different for everyone and many of us have a hard time with constantly changing priorities and often feeling like we’re failing to make progress toward our goals.
Success is much talked about, yet not really understood. Everyone has a different definition and a different path to get to their destination. This course is about simple concepts and a realization that there is no new and undiscovered magic formula. The secret to success is the one hiding in plain view.
Success is a process that must be started and continued through individual actions to its conclusion. Although many may say otherwise in their attempt to sell you something, there are no real shortcuts. There are, however, direct paths with clear guiding principles to create the most efficient and direct routes to our intended destinations.
One of the first concepts of success I learned was taught to me by a man named Paul J. Meyer, a great motivational writer, trainer and the founder of several companies. His definition explains, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile predetermined personal goal.” What this concept boils down to is that success is personal to everyone and is an individual choice. Success for me might be the exact opposite of how another would define it. In addition to the individuality, there needs to be a “progressive realization,” as Meyer points out.
Stack the Logs was a simple phrase repeated to me by my father in the times he wanted to reassure me I was on the right track and only needed to keep on. He knew from his own life education that success is an incremental accumulation over time; one decision and choice stacked on top of another.
“Stack the Logs” is about progressively realizing your dreams. It is about finding your way to them through the obstacles now keeping you where you are. There is no quantum travel to the destination of success, nor is there any way to bypass the journey to end up directly at the destination. The road must be traveled. Success by practical definition is a process or a journey.
The Exponential Entrepreneur
Our human minds are naturally disposed to linear thinking. 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. That’s forward progress.
But true power comes when we can harness the power of exponential. This subject is discussed at length in the book, Bold, by Peter Diamandis and Steven Cotler.
Unlike the +1 progression of linear growth, wherein 1 becomes 2 becomes 3 becomes 4 and so forth, exponential growth is a compound doubling: 1 becomes 2 becomes 4 becomes 8 and so on. And this is the problem: This doubling is unusually deceptive. If I take 30 large linear steps (say three feet, or one meter per step) from my Santa Monica living room, I end up 30 meters away, or roughly across the street. If, alternatively, I take 30 exponential steps from the same starting point, I end up a billion meters away, or orbiting the Earth 26 times. (Excerpt from Bold)
The difference between linear and exponential is truly astonishing, and this course will help you wrap your mind around exponential thinking to create growth.
However, the point in Bold worth pointing out is the word “deceptive.”
Sometimes when we are making progress, it feels like we are going nowhere. This is true because even in exponential growth, it takes time to see results. Too often, entrepreneurs focus only on what can be seen. The truth is making consistent, intentional steps forward every day will compound and build, and if we re-invest those gains will end up in a huge payoff.
The misconception of success is that if we just do this one thing or have this great opportunity then everything will just blow up before our eyes.
There are no shortcuts. There is only exponential progress built with intentionality over a sustained period. What is seen may look like it was a magical breakthrough, but it was really the result of something purposeful. The progress is deceptive in its early stages.
Incremental Cumulative Effect
The concept of Incremental Cumulative Effect (ICE) is an explanation of why you are where you are today and why you achieve the results you currently do. Where you are today is the result of small yet compounding decisions added up together to create the sum of your life. If you are well educated, it is the result of many compound decisions in the past that when combined form your current education.
You are the sum of the decisions, actions and habits of the past. Your future lies in those same factors as your life progresses.
Saying this is simple. You are where you are because of cumulative choices. This is true for your business and for your life.
The hard part is acting on this knowledge and taking action to make a change. Saying the concept of incremental effect is simple is like saying golf is a simple game. All you have to do is hit the ball down the fairway, then hit it on the green, then 2-putt and you have a par. Simple right?
The same is true for entrepreneurial and personal growth. It’s hard but possible. If you want to change your results or make improvements, you must make a series of small changes and allow those changes to accumulate over time to give birth to a new result.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the flywheel and how persistent, intentional effort will compound and eventually lead to a breakthrough.
Most people from the outside only see the breakthrough, not realizing the amount of effort and pain that came before the results started to appear.
This glorification of the breakthrough and celebration of an “overnight success” is what confuses many entrepreneurs and has them searching for immediate gratification and shortcuts to success.
The reality is, the only thing to do is make sure you are moving forward, continuing to turn the flywheel.
The Power of the J-Shaped Curve
The J-Shaped curve is both a visualization tool and a real effect. The principle of the J-shaped curve is that our applied effort and output to get a result take far more in the short-term, but over time your results improve and compound to where the compounding effect creates a greater yield.
The J-shaped curve is mostly flat for a period of time until results catch up with the input and then a dramatic rise of the curve begins to happen. Imagine learning to juggle. If you graphed your attempt, progress would be very slow and filled with failure. Your graph is very flat at this point. Over time and with practice, your skill begins to come around. The results begin to increase and your graph begins its journey upward. Eventually with enough time and practice, you are proficient at the skill and your result graph is now very high, giving your chart the J shape.
Compound Interest as a Working Metaphor
If you started with a single penny and doubled it every day for a month, how much money do you think you would accumulate? Most people will guess somewhere between $100 and $1,000. It only makes sense. It’s just a penny doubling.
The astonishing fact is that if you doubled a penny every day for 30 days your total would be a mind-boggling amount: $5,368,709.12!
How Compound Interest Works
Compound interest is interest earned on interest. With the principle of compound interest, you have a sum of money invested over time, earning interest. The interest is added to the initial principal where it is also compounded and added to the original sum and the cycle continues. Compound interest starts out slowly but builds over time as your interest earns interest, resulting in a snowball effect.
What does this mean in terms of living your life?
Look at your applied efforts as principal contribution. Your additional efforts and reinvested gains are comparable to the compound interest effect. As with compound interest, the more you can stack your efforts on top of each other, the more they will compound. This is why it’s critical you don’t take action for action’s sake, but with clearly defined destination (we’ll get to this in upcoming lessons).
Your applied efforts are the equivalent of your interest rate as a multiplier of your initial efforts. It requires patience and consistency, making and reinvesting small gains and improvements over time and growing your success bank account.
In my own case I did not discover until much later the shortcuts I had been taking were actually depleting my success bank account and putting me further behind.
Success certainly does not happen overnight. It is incremental – One log at a time. Like the beauty of a sunny summer day that is sometimes hidden in plain sight so we take it for granted, so also are the principles and foundations for success. They are hidden in plain sight, available for everyone, but used by relatively few.
Unfortunately for all of us who live in a very impatient society, we cannot microwave our results or take shortcuts. Even with the principle of compound interest, we still must grind for a period of time without seeing a lot of results. Just as the penny doubled daily for the first 10 days only produced a measly $5.12, by the end of the second 10 days, the result was over $5,200 and the result at the end of the third 10 days over $5.3 million.
Most people fail to achieve great success in an endeavor because they quit before they really see the gains and results improve. History is filled with stories of people who failed simply because they quit too soon.
Applied Incremental Advantage
The Stack the Logs principle of applied incremental advantage is simply compound and reinvested incremental improvement applied back into your life or business. This is an awesome and incredible power that can change your life.
Be diligent to ensure you are doing the right things in your life to get the results you want to make gains and improvements by reinvesting your momentum. As you continue to “stack your logs,” your personal success graph begins to resemble a J-shaped curve and your results are magnified.
Remember, success is not a one-time destination. Success is an accumulation of actions in the right direction toward what is meaningful to you. Like the principle of compound interest, incremental improvement takes time before dramatic results are evident. My father used to advise me to “keep stacking the logs and eventually the pile will be so high people couldn’t help but see it.”
Breaking the Chains of Average
Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Average is certainly not the ideal plateau for us to strive for.
Average is very much the enemy of excellent.
Most individuals are the hordes of decent average people who do not seek to be better than they are. They flow in a current of a status quo river trapped into a destination they will not know until they arrive.
These people will be carried by the current of life. They suffer the fate of giving up control and giving up any real say about the journey, choosing instead to release their authority over their own lives to fate, circumstances and the momentum of their present condition. This is sad but true. This is average.
The most powerful aspect of compound interest is that it’s within all of our grasp. It’s forward progress, consistently and deliberately created by action.