Don’t Follow This Lesson and See What Will Happen

Baby steps

Think about taking small but consistent action

Did you start this year with big ambitions? Did you set big goals for yourself? This is going to be your year right?

That’s great and I hope you achieve what you are looking for. I just hope you’re not taking the wrong approach.

You may think that your life needs to take massive steps every once in awhile for everything to be better. You try really hard for a month, but don’t see results. You think what you’re doing isn’t working. However that’s the wrong attitude.

It’s the small choices done repeatedly over time that will have the biggest factor in your outcome. 

These small choices result in unnoticeable changes by your or others. Reading ten pages of a business book a day isn’t going to make a big change, right? How about saying no to a can of Coke?

Making small gradual changes goes again the instant result culture we’re accustomed to. Just as we microwave our meals to be ready quickly, we want to lose 20 pounds in just a week, and make thousands of dollars after a month of trying.

Many don’t contribute to their IRA because they’d rather use the money now. Plus it doesn’t seem like it makes much money anyways.

So these small choices don’t offer a huge difference and obvious change so why even bother?

Because one day those small choices are going to lead to massive results.

Take a penny or $3 million?

Darren Hardy, in the Compound Effect, shows how this works.

You are offered two choices. Would you take $3 million in cash right now or a single penny that doubles in value every day for 31 days? You may have heard this before and know that taking the penny will result in more money in the end. So why is it hard to believe?

Because it takes longer to see the result.

Let’s say you take $3 million in cash. I take the penny. After a seven days I have sixty-four cents. You have $3 million and looking at a new car. Me? I can’t even buy a can of Coke.

After 14 days I have $81.92 while you’re planning a vacation to Hawaii.

After 20 days I have only $5,243. You still have $3 million. We’re still so far apart. I look like the fool.

Then the magic starts to happen. On day twenty-nine, you’ve got $3 million while I have $2.7 million. On day thirty I’ll have $5.4 million. On the final day of the month long wait, I will have exactly $10,737,418.24!

Most people would take the instant $3 million. Even compounding a penny doesn’t seem like it’ll amount to much after thirty-one days.

That’s what Darren Hardy calls the Compound Effect and it can have a huge impact on your life.

It can work for you or against you though.

Does a Coke a day make a difference?

If we both ate the same thing and did the same amount of physical activity, but you drank one can of Coke a day and I didn’t, how would it look after just one year?

You would gain 14.6 pounds in a year. That’s 73 pounds in five years!

Doesn’t seem like much day-to-day right? It’s just a can of Coke.

If I subtracted 140 calories a day (equivalent to a can of Coke) in a year, I’d lose 14.6 pounds. We’d be 29.6 pounds apart in one year! In five years that would be 146 pounds!

Just think about how easy it is to add or subtract just 140 calories a day. That’s not just a can of Coke. That could be a couple Oreo cookies or an extra serving of mashed potatoes. It’s so easy, and we hardly notice in the short term. In the long term, it adds up.

The story of MJ Demarco

MJ Demarco saw a Lamborghini when he was a teenager and it changed everything in his life. The young owner of the car was an inventor. MJ couldn’t sing, act, or play sports, but knew that day he could get rich without fame or physical talent.

From high school through college, he studied successful millionaires to find their secret. He wanted to become young and rich. He didn’t want to be rich by working at a job until he was 65 and then retiring to finally enjoy his money.

After college, MJ had friends who were getting great, but typical jobs. Training to be a manager or selling insurance wasn’t what he envisioned. He didn’t want the safe job. He decided to keep working on starting his own business.

He kept failing and had to take crappy jobs to just pay the bills. He said he even prostituted himself to an older woman to pay for his best friend’s wedding gift.

Meanwhile his friends were getting raises and moving up the corporate ladder. They had their cars and homes and lived the typical post college life.

Just like the penny example, his friends seem so much better off than MJ. He should have taken a safe job right out of college, right?

At 26, he fell into depression. To cope, he escaped into the lives of millionaires by reading their books and other rags-to-riches stories. He drove a limo and would read everything from finance to internet programming while waiting for clients.

That penny kept compounding for him, even though it didn’t seem like it.

He decided to move away from the cold dreary Chicago winters to sunny Phoenix. He had to change his environment. He arrived poor but feeling rich. He was in control of his life.

He created a website based on an unsolved need he encountered when he was a limo driver. He lived in Chicago, but if he needed a limo in New York, where would he go to find it? His website would solve this problem.

He marketed his website like crazy. He got an unexpected offer from a company to design their website. That wasn’t his goal, but he agreed for $400 and did it in a day. In less than 24 hours, he had another call from a company wanting the same thing. This time he did it for $600 and it took him two days.

At that time, $1,000 was like winning the lottery to him.

Do you see the penny start to show some results?

Though he started making money in web design, that was not his main focus. His limo web directory was. He was getting traffic, but needed to turn it into money.

His days were long and hard. 60 hour workweeks were common. While his friends were out partying, he was working at home.

It paid off. His clients were telling him how much their business increased because of him.

In 2000, he sold his company for $1.2 million. After taxes, bad investments, and spending, he had less than $300,000 left.

After the tech bubble burst and his buyers made poor decisions with the direction of the company, he bought his website back at $250,000 just a year after selling it.

The next 18 months, he decided to work harder and make the income more passive. This is when that single penny started to show massive results.

When things started to click for him, he was making $200,000 a month and $100,000 on a BAD month from his website.

He was making millions a year and loving it.

In 2007, he decided to retire and sold his company for $4.5 million to work on other passions.

Can you see how his actions and choices didn’t seem like much at the time? In fact, his life looked horrible. Everyone thought he was crazy. His mom would constantly remind him to get a real job (she once suggested deli manager).

He tried and failed. He read as much as he could. He studied self-made millionaires.

He had no visible positive results for his efforts early on, but he kept taking small steps repeatedly over time that kept moving him towards his goal.

He wrote a great book called, The Millionaire Fastlane that tells his story and teaches others how. I just started to read it, but I know it’s going to be great.

Try and do five things a day

I hope I’ve shown you no matter what you’re trying to achieve, small choices done repeatedly over time have a huge impact on your success. 

It’s hard to have that mindset because we lack patience! We want it now. Who wants to wait months or years for success?

Think about anything you’ve achieved, you’ve probably reached that point through a series of small steps done consistently. It was far from an overnight success.

Jack Canfield suggests doing five things a day towards achieving your goal. Just five things. Can you do just five a day? I believe so. If you can’t, you’re not serious enough about it. Overtime, it adds up.

Remember you’re not going to see visible results for awhile, but that doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t working.

Just think of that penny working its magic.

Looking to achieve your goals and change your life?

I’m starting a course soon on goal setting, which teaches you the proper way to set and achieve your goals. Writing down your goals is easy, but seeing it till the end is where most fail. It’s going to feature videos, worksheets, and a forum to connect with like-minded people.

This is for those looking to learn what it’ll really take to achieve your goals. It’s those who want to be in the top 1%. I’ll give you a plan to help you. Stay tuned for it.


Photo by Dermot O’ Halloran
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62 responses to Don’t Follow This Lesson and See What Will Happen

  1. This is great motivation! I tend to be more of a “sprinter” than a “marathoner” when it comes to these things and tend to let little failures get the best of me. It is so true that little changes lead to a much bigger life change. Thanks for the reminder!

    • I used to be a sprinter as well. I would work fast and furiously and then stop when things got tough. Now I try to stay consistent. Slow and steady wins the race right? Thanks for your comment Carly!

  2. This is great. So many of us try to get quick results, but any successful person will tell you that it took them years and numerous setbacks to see any positive results.

    • Agreed. If you study any successful person, you’ll see how long it took and how much they had to go through to have their success. It didn’t happen fast, but too many people think it happens that way.

  3. Small steps in the right direction. Great advice Benny 🙂

    I actually Googled MJ Demarco. Amazing story!

    • Thanks Ramy! I think you’d really like his book. I don’t think you’re type that wants to walk in the “slowlane”. I think you’re more of a “fastlane” type. Check out his book.

  4. This is a really good post, Benny. I like MJ’s story because unlike him, most people will say they want something but won’t do what it takes to get there and usually give up soon after starting it.MJ didn’t give up but give more and the more he gave to what he wanted the more he got from it. That is awesome.
    P.S. Hope you’re having fun on your trip!

    • Thanks for reading Dwayne! Have you read his book? I think you’d enjoy it. His story is inspiring for sure. I had a good time on my trip. I’m actually back now and feeing the jetlag!

  5. So true Benny! The massively successful do the un-glamourous work of getting there every single day. Massive efforts may get the headlines, but it’s the years of seemingly inconsequential efforts years in advance of that effort that make the difference.

    I use Darren’s Rhythm Register to track my habbits. Have you tried that before?

    • Like MJ Demarco said in his book, people look at the result and that’s what they want but they don’t want to do the process. They see a startup sell for millions and want that result, but they don’t think about the blood, sweat, and tears put in behind the scenes to get that result. I did use Darren’s system last year! I’m slacking and need to get back into the swing of things now again.

  6. The book was great. You bring up a good point. It’s only to late if you never start. There will never be a good time to start so start now! Jack Canfields book on success is also a great book to read with a lot of great tips.
    Success does not happen over night but you have to keep at it with a great attitude

    • Glad you read the book. I don’t know why I didn’t read it earlier even though I had heard great things about it. It’s definitely never too late too start. Thanks for reading and your comment Paul.

  7. Thanks for the recommendation, I agree the Millionaire Fastlane is a great book to figure out if you are starting the right biz.

  8. Thanks Benny for the story, much appreciated!! I hope you find the rest of the book helpful to your own “one penny” journey. Cheers, MJ

    • Thanks for your comment MJ! I wrote this post and then started reading your book. Your story fit with the point of the post that I just had to share it. I don’t know why I didn’t read your book earlier since other bloggers have said they enjoyed it. Thanks again!

  9. Hands down the best thing I’ve read all day. It’s funny because these small things don’t have an immediate payoff. The need for instant gratification keeps many people from reaching their really big goals.

    • Thanks so much Srini. The small things are unnoticeable but one day if we stay consistent it will pay off. It’s just that people want to see big results right away!

  10. Hey Benny,

    Great read. It’s funny, I was just telling my kids about how small changes can make a big difference.

    Also… I’m at 6 mos without a daily coke (the generic southeastern term for any soda or pop). 🙂

    • Thanks for reading! That is funny you were just telling your kids that. They have a smart dad. 🙂 Six months is great without a coke. How long were you drinking it before that?

  11. Start ambitious and stay ambitious! Thanks for the advise.

  12. Benny ! I really loved this ! I love the motivating facotrs in this post. Wow. So cool. Was feeling a bit down tonight. Actually thinking , wondering if what I am doing makes a difference in a situation on my life. But I read this and thought. You never know. If I keep trying, I might be making a difference.. We just get tired, and it can be a long road to our goals at times. We need people like you and your pat on tyhe back to remind us, it’s pokay to feel beat, but after that “breather” get up and keep trying. Thank you Benny. I am the most optimisitc person I know but I need a pat on the back every once in a while too. I always say “Even Rocky Marciano got to got to his corner every once in a while” We all need a break and need to take that breather… but thank you for reminding me that it’s only a breather.. I have to keep trying.. Big hugs for this one! and For such a wonderful post, Great job and thank you !

    • Hey Colleen! Glad to hear this post found you at a good time. It can definitely be a long road. I completely understand that feeling. It’s nice to take a step back, reevaluate and then continue on. I don’t think anyone who found success did it without having to go to their corner and take a break. It’s never a smooth road! If it was, it’d be so easy that everyone would be achieving their goals. I just have to think to myself how bad do I want this. Really bad? If not, then maybe I’m not doing the right thing. Thanks for your comment. Now get back and fight! 🙂

  13. Benny, I also read the compound effect and I love love love that book, man! It’s all about being a goal-getter and not a goal-setter in my book.

    I love all the lessons in the book and in fact i printed a lot of the forms on the website and I now use them to create a daily routine.

    That is what has helped me the most! I definitely have a lot of goals this year and have posted them on the wall along with the rewards that I will earn when I reach those goals, so that I can see them every day and remnid myself of WHY I do what I do and to stay focused – keeping the eye on the price!

    • Glad you read it! It’s a short book but so full of great advice. It really changed my outlook. Before I never thought much about doing the little things. Once I did, I made sure I did something towards my goals every day or two. I didn’t try and do too much nor take long breaks. Sounds like you have a great system t here to keep the eye on the prize! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  14. Interesting post, Danny. It is very fascinating to read about the story of Mr. Demarco. I think it is true that most of us go for instant gains. But being patient and working toward your goal one steady step at a time has its benefits for sure, like with MJ. I personally need to work toward it myself as I also tend to gravitate towards short term gains quite often.


    • Take a look at his book if you’re looking for something to read. It’s definitely important to do the little things even if you’re not seeing the results. Just depends on how bad you want to succeed.

  15. Time, patience is a steady plan gets you there. These are great stories.
    P.S. Got a trojan blocked, there may be some malware infiltrated in this blog post.

  16. Excellent reminder about how the small things count. Sometimes it seems like I’m not getting anywhere, but I work just about every day on my sites doing lots of little things.

    I’m looking forward to hear what you’re going to say about goal setting. I know that’s an area I really need to improve.

  17. Nothing compares to making it all on your own while doing what you love. This is the only way to live life. Every step toward your passions is the right step, even the tiniest steps. Reading books and researching are a great place to start. Thank you for this article!

    • Thank you for your first comment here! It has to be the best feeling to make it on your own doing what you love. Reading and researching is a great way to get into the mind of people who you aspire to be like. Thanks for reading Christine!

  18. Benny.
    I was researching the idea of how you have to fail a bunch of times before you succeed. i think the exact quote was “every time you fail, brings you one step closer to success”. It ties in nicely with the compound effect you talk about.

    It’s so easy to get down and feel like giving up, I think your post is a good reminder and inspiration to stick with it, keep going and eventually as long as you are tweaking and working it, you’ll get it right and achieve the success you are looking for.

    • Failing sure does, but it sucks to fail. I know from experience. It’s hard sometimes to pick ourselves up, but we have to keep in mind the big picture. I know for myself I keep trying to do a little bit more to grow this blog, gain the trust of readers, make money, and have a full time business from everything. It’s easy to quit when you’re not seeing results, but there has to be some belief that what you’re doing is the right thing, in order to keep moving forward. Thanks!

  19. Loved the penny story. I had to work out that math myself, it just seemed so impossible!

    • LOL! I did too when I first read it. It does seem impossible! Hope your RV trip is going well! Just took a look at some great pics on your blog.

  20. What an awesome share Benny. I love this and can so relate.

    I don’t know if it has to do with my generation but we never had that instant gratification growing up you know. We always had to wait for things. I’m also a planner so I know that good things come to those that wait. Yep, always loved that saying.

    This is a must read for everyone just coming into the online world. I know that kids these days are more about now now now but at least this is the reassurance that if you do just five things a day, every day, your time will come. I think it’s best that we actually learn some of these lessons as life has dealt to us so we can appreciate it that much more.

    Thanks for sharing this fabulous message with us today Benny and I’ll be sharing it as well.

    Have a great week.


  21. Hi Benny!
    Wow I though this article was written for me!
    Thank you for this great and motivating post. I see you point. Persistence is the key to success. Sometimes we see the black side of things. In this case we just need to put things into perspective and keep working to achieve our goals. that is how I see things since I started building my own business.
    Just to tell my story speaking with your language, I had the 3 millions, I quit everything and now I don’t even see any penni. I know what I want …business independence… and I work for it. Posts like this one gives me energy 🙂
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you Lenia! Persistence is the key. No person who has achieved business independence did it without persistance. Why is persistance not easy? Because we want things right away. We want to see results. We have some problems and want to quit. Those who stay persistent are rewarded at the end. I went to check out your blog and you’re doing great! Left you a comment. Thanks!

      • Hey Benny!
        Thank you very much for your advice and off course the comment in my site. i really appreciate that. That is true …we usually are not patient and we want to see big results. Sometimes there are small results and achievements but we ignore them and we are waiting for the big success. i guess that is related to the human nature but we can work it out 🙂
        Have a great day!

  22. Hi Benny,

    Adrienne Smith posted your blog on Facebook, so I thought I would come over and say hi. This is a wonderful introduction to your blog. I really enjoyed reading about MJ and would like to read his book. Your message about trying to do 5 small things a day struck a chord with me. In 2010 I joined Weight Watchers and lost almost 40 pounds. It took me about 8 months to lose the weight – by making small changes on a consistent basis. I unfortunately have put some of the weight back on. This post is a wake up call to me. I can lose the weight again, and keep it off, by making small changes, everyday. Thanks so much for this post and nice to meet you!

    • Hi Jamella, welcome! Thanks to Adrienne for sharing this post and having you come over. Losing almost 40 pounds is a huge accomplishment. Congrats on that first. However it’s easy to put it back on like you said. It takes more work to lose that weight again, than it would be to stay consistent every day to maintain that weight. You don’t want to lose your momentum. It’s like a pump that pulls water from a well. To get the water you have to pump hard and fast. You won’t get water for awhile. You’re still working hard and finally that water is flowing out! Now if you want to keep that steady stream of water, all you have to do is pump once in awhile. The hard work has been done at the beginning. Now you’re making sure you don’t lose that momentum. What happens if you stopped pumping? All that water goes back down. Now if you want that water again, you have to pump hard and fast for awhile.

      I’ve been in situations similar with exercise. Instead of doing a little bit every day to maintain my fitness, I stopped and lost it all. Much harder to get back to that level I was at before.

      Thanks for sharing and your comment!

  23. Hey Benny,

    Motivational and inspiring blog post!

    I love the way you have used several examples to highlight the importance of breaking down your long term ambition/goal into several smaller ones.

    That’s what I am trying to do now with my new blog 🙂 I never followed that with the old blog – I wasn’t patient – not consistent either. But, then I decided to start over. To do everything right this time around.

    Thanks for the post 🙂

    Jeevan Jacob John

    • Hi Jeevan, I believe you’ll learn from your first blog and make this one better. I’ve started and stopped a few blogs before this one. Even though I quit those, I still learned something from them. Yes it’s really important to take big goals and make them into several smaller ones. That makes it much easier to accomplish. If we just think about the big goal, it seems impossible. Just like thinking about climbing the high mountain in the world. It takes lots of little steps to get there. Thanks for your comment!

      • Hi Benny,

        Yes, I did learn a lot of things from my first blog – mostly importantly the value of being patience, distributing my efforts and blogging consistently. I hope I can do it better this time.

        Thanks for the reply, Benny!

  24. Dear Benny,

    I’ve been really caught up with school work, and like many bloggers of the online world have predicted, my blogging started to slow, as I began to neglect it. However, just reading your post today, has really kicked me in the ass, and woken me up.

    I love how you share the story of MJ, it’s truly inspiring. Many a time we hear success stories like that, and always wish that we too can be a part of such stories.

    Visiting your blog after taking a long hiatus is making me feel so much more motivated than ever before. Thank you Benny!


    • Hey Daniel! Glad to hear from you. I read his story and was so inspired by it. We should make it our goal to have a story that like that we can share in the future! Hope you get back into blogging. Don’t miss out on all the fun. 🙂

  25. I’m not taking the risk of not following these valuable advises. You seem to write all these from your experiences. Did you write out of your own experience?

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful post.


  26. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I feel like I want to give up but I have to remember that everything is baby steps. As long as I’m making progress, one day at a time… I’ll get there. I hope.

    To be more specific, I’m sitting on a bed – ready to throw my laptop on the ground because I’m upset with the progress of things that are happening with my current projects. Be steadfast – take a breath – I can do this. One. Step. At. A. Time.

  27. Hi Benny

    You know this already but just wante to say again how I LOVED that penny fable. i shared it with my friends (esp the bankers) and we were all like “oh yah, duh! we should know that!!!” and yet so many of us would rather instant gratification, which is perhaps why we were in banking in the first place hahaah
    a good lesson of patience and persistence, once we know what we are doing is right and we believe in it

    Noch Noch

    • Hahaha..glad you loved that example. That’s how I felt the first time I read it. I didn’t think a penny could possibly be more than $3 million after thirty-one days. Also the story of MJ is perfect because he didn’t take the instant gratification like his friends. He wanted to be rich with his own business. In the end, he did and retired young!

  28. Great article. This really resonated with me. I am balancing my day gig with getting my life coaching business off the ground. Taking small decisive actions are what it is all about for me right now. I love this blog. Keep up the good work!

  29. Not following the lessons learned offered by someone who has “been there done that” is a sure recipe for disaster.

    I learned in the Army that accomplishing the “mission” was only achieved by taking things in small chunks. Realizing the overwhelming task ahead in charging up a hill to face the enemy is a little easier to take if you just go one tree at a time.

    There was always only two rules in getting the job done:

    1. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I was told.
    2. “EVERYTHING is small stuff.”

    I always tried not to let all the little “ankle biters” get to me in the course of living day to day. And sometimes, the urge to be overwhelmed was just too much.

    But I can still see my Army Sergeant’s face as he would look at me from the middle of a mud puddle at the firing range… “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”

    • What a great comment Ed. I believe this is your first here. Thank you!

      A great lesson from your days in the military for sure. Big goals have to be broken into small chunks or else they are overwhelming. Remembering the sergeant’s face is a great reminder to don’t sweat the small stuff. It truly is just small stuff!

  30. thank you for reminding me to be patient!

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