(This blog post was inspired by a speech by Darren Hardy)
If I were to give you a choice of a single penny that doubles everyday for 31 days or a million dollars in cash right now, which would you choose? Before you answer this seemingly odd question, let me ask and answer another question.
What is the fundamental factor to all the results in your life? If we were to boil everything down to the most core controlling element to all the results in your life, what would it be? The truth is that your life is controlled by one factor. There’s only one thing that will determine whether at the end of your life you end up living your dream or whether you end up living a monotonous existence. There’s one thing that determines whether you end up a hard mother fucker with a sleeve full of tabs or you end up someone who makes excuses of why you got screwed in life. Your whole life comes down to one thing. What’s the one thing?
It all comes down to choices. Your whole life is nothing but the accumulated compound effect of the choices you’ve made up to this moment. Right now, your waistline is nothing but the accumulated compound effect of the choices you’ve made up to this moment. The success in your career, the size of your bank account, the intimacy of the relationships in your life are all just an outcome of the compounded choices you’ve made up to this point.
Success in life or in a military course like Ranger School, Sapper Leader Course or Special Forces Assessment & Selection is not the result of some heroic feats. Nobody who has graduated the courses mentioned above did anything heroic to achieve those milestones. It is not some super human, grand act of bravery.
Success is a result of small, seemingly insignificant, moment-to-moment choices. The only thing that separates them from you is that accumulated compound effect of those little choices that created dramatic differences in results. These small choices add up to big gargantuan differences in results.
So let me ask the original question again. If I were to give you a choice of a single penny that doubles everyday for 31 days or a million dollars in cash right now, which would you choose? Before you answer I will sweeten the deal, a penny that doubles everyday for 31 days or 3 million dollars in cash right now, right here today. What would you do? Would you take the 3 million dollars?
Well let's say you were paying attention while you read the four paragraphs between the original question and when I sweetened the deal and you said, “Small things add up to big results. There’s a clue there. I better pick the small thing.” So you pick the penny, but your neighbor, the people who lives next door to you, picked the 3 million dollars in cash. So now, we’re going to proceed in life.
Five days from now, your choice of the compounding penny is totalling 16 cents, while your neighbor has 3 million dollars in cash and you can hear the parties going on. When you get ten days from now your penny is worth five dollars and twelve cents. It’s not until we get to day 31 that we see the dramatic outcome of the compounding penny, where your penny has turned into $10,737,000 compared to our neighbors measly $3 million.
Compound choices are the key to your success at military schools, but more importantly life. The choice you make between Day 1 and Day 2 is exactly the same simple, small, easy choice you make between Day 30 and Day 31, but the outcome of those choices are dramatically different.
Don’t look for the quick fix for success, happiness, and wealth. There’s no shortcut to greatness. There’s no quick fix for health. And there’s no freaking secret to passing Ranger School, Sapper School and Selection. You’re going to walk through a minefield of pain and disappointment day in and day out. Because success in life is earned one day at a time.
Everyday you lift your head off the pillow, you’re going to decide whether that day you are a success or you are a failure. In life, you’re either moving forward or you’re falling behind. One step at a time, in every choice you make, you are either going in the direction of success or you are going in the direction of failure. It is one decision at a time.
Don’t get me wrong, I know this is hard, because at the moment you’re making a choice, the consequences, the outcomes, and the results aren’t evident. So you can get faked out. The truth is that every single choice you make has somewhat of a “butterfly effect” This means that one little, itty, bitty choice now that is repeated daily can result in a tsunami in your life 10, 15 years later, either positive or negative.
Let’s take a step back, what’s the first choice you should make? The very first choice you should make is to have patience. Take a long term, big picture approach to life. Even though you don’t see the results in the moment, know that your daily discipline has ignited the compound effect and every choice you make towards your goal fuels it. This pattern will continue and in a year or two you won’t even recognize the person you were when you started.
This is the approach I took to preparing for Ranger, Sapper, and Selection. I always kept the big picture in mind, my end goal, but I focused on the day to day. On the choices I made, ensuring that they were going to keep me moving in the right direction. In land nav, you shoot your azimuth before you start counting pace. Your azimuth is the big picture mindset moving you to your long term goal. Your pace count is your daily discipline.
When I first enlisted in the military I couldn’t even pass the APFT and I managed to complete some of the Army’s hardest courses. You can accomplish anything if you maintain your daily discipline, and at the same time not lose sight of your end goal. Now go out and get after it.
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Thanks for talking the time to read this.