The Magic of Compounding

I used to think that compound interest only mattered when it came to money. But now I realize everything else in life compounds and that’s where the honey is hidden.

Naval Ravikant once said; “all the benefits in life come from compound interest-money, relationships, habits–anything of importance.”

It is the difference between meeting a person for 30 minutes and hanging out with the same person for two days. Our human conversations are designed to be plastic and artificial over a cup of coffee. Each party is just agreeing to the other. The conversations rarely go beyond what each person is doing.

But imagine you spent two days with a person. By the end of the day one, you’re done with all the boring conversations that chaps hold over a cup of coffee. You go deeper. The only other way to hack this is in a bar. Alcohol has a rare way of relaxing people to be honest and authentic.

When you date a person for more than two years, something turns out different. You get to know them better. You have had all these arguments. And you’ve crossed the chasm. You actually get to build something solid.

You can tell great compounding from the fact that the greatest benefit of reading rarely comes from the number of books you’ve read but from the number of times you’ve re-read great books. For my case, I have Nassim Taleb’s books on that list. Everytime you re-read a book of his, you get closer to the core of his central idea, you refine the idea in your own words. Will Durant and Yuval Noah are those other authors whose works compound. They get better everytime you re-read them.

Some musicians fall in that category. If you listen to Simi, you realize everytime you listen to her songs, it is a different and more orgasmic experience.

You don’t get to know a place well enough until you’ve immersed yourself in it. Some things look hard until you stay with them long enough. And then you realize they were easy.

Experiences compound, with each passing time, your memory of a great experience gets even better. It brings more contentment reliving it in your mind.

In the end, you don’t need to be the best, the most intelligent or most anything, you just have to be better at the compounding game.

Learn something new that you didn’t know when the day started. Face a fear. Go to a place you’ve never been to. Meet someone new and know them. Those 1% improvements look small but over time, they add up.

In the words of Jacob Riis:

“when nothing seems to help. I go back and look at the stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it- but all that had gone before.”