How I look, how I think, how I see myself, how I approach work, how I interpret certain events is all compounded from the micro-decisions I make in the moment of deciding what to do.
I had this peculiar observation last time I played volleyball. When I just came, I joined a group of college boys. Later I found out they all lived together. They were decent at volleyball but their jokes were pretty uniformly unfunny.
All 5 of them had a different level of being athletic, aka how fit they were, aka how visible their muscles were, or were not. Obviously, they are their own people but the sameness of how they all talked to each other accentuated this difference in my eyes.
I thought more about how people coming from the same background, living in the same house, with the same givens, can arrive at very different outcomes in life depending on the decisions they make. Over the summer, while sharing the house with four friends, I also noticed that even sharing the same food at the table, the patterns of how we all ate differed. More so, the patterns of at what time we went to bed, how we worked, what we worked on, and for how long were also very different.
So again I get back to the idea of 1%, the small steps people take on a daily, every moment basis that define how and where they are. The final outcome that an outsider sees, for example, your appearance, what you do, emotional stability, etc. is just an accumulation of literally thousands of daily decisions.
Really, me eating a chocolate bar yesterday is not a big deal at all. When taken out of context, this decision doesn’t say anything about me. However, trends like these should be seen as a continuous progression. As in ”How many times have I eaten chocolate in the past 10 days?”. In the moment of me buying the chocolate bar, I really should be thinking “What would be different between me today and me doing this tomorrow?’
This is probably why it is advised so strongly to build habits and learn early on in life. Among other reasons, when we are young, we get a chance to get something started that will compound itself over the years.
The same goes for relationships. A quality relationship with another person is an accumulation of quality moments spent together that reinforce positive emotions about each other making both of us the trust and understand each other more. What explains the cooling between people? It is the same compound effect in the other direction. It is not that the one time I felt unheard, unnoticed, and unappreciated by a friend X that affects how I feel about him. It is the accumulation of small moments into a strong feeling.
Warren Buffet talks about the idea of a “compounding machine”, a financial empire he has built that fully taps into the principle of compound interest. It’s extremely important to realize that a compounding machine is not just a thing in investing and math.
Each of us, you and me, are compounding machines of our daily decisions.
As Albert Einstein said,
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”