Do this one thing to achieve mastery and build your success over time

Mighty Knowledge
4 min readJan 23, 2019

Who becomes successful in their career?

No, it’s not the talented ones.

There’s no such thing as talent, at least in the traditional way people think of talent. Most will say that some people are born great. “Albert Einstein must have been born a genius, I could never be like that.”

This is simply not true. Sure some people might be more inclined to do well in certain areas simply based on personal interest but no one is just born with superior skills. Take Albert Einstein for example. One could argue that he was born a freak genius. Maybe he was born with a small intellectual edge over other students, but he also studied math and physics every single day. He practised endlessly. He chose to work at a patent office not because it was his dream job, but because he felt the work was light enough to give him time and energy to give thought to his physics experiments which he was far more passionate about.

Professional athletes give evidence of a similar work ethic. Lots of people want to play pro basketball in the NBA, but they didn’t practice playing basketball almost everyday since they were 3 years old like Kobe Bryant. They didn’t study the tapes from NBA games to perfect their game.

You’ll notice a pattern here: all people who have achieved career success took advantage of the 8th wonder of the world: compound interest.

Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world

— Albert Einstein

Compound Interest

Compound interest doesn’t only apply to money, it applies to knowledge and skills as well. When you re-invest in yourself, your own life, skills, knowledge, health, and well-being, that interest compounds itself over time. It adds up.

Take something simple like dressing better. Dressing better will put you in a better mood, boost your confidence, and have a positive effect on people’s perception of you. These “interests” will compound, motivating you to do even better work at whatever your profession may be. You do better work and then upgrade something else, maybe dressing even better, working out, or cleaning up your diet. And so on. Each small improvement you can make stacks on and improves your life-game overall. Do this for a long enough time and your skills and success will rapidly balloon.

How about for learning a new skill like coding because it’s required for your new position at work. Practising your coding once a week will help, but you’ll definitely accumulate your skills much faster if you code a bit everyday. Every time you code, try to make something a bit more challenging or complex than last time. This concept of pushing yourself further each time is called progressive overload and is the main technique that bodybuilders and fitness models use to build their physiques.

Skill stacking

The greatest beauty of compound interest is that practising at one skill won’t only build itself up but will also help in other areas of your life. Learning to code helps you think more analytically and systematically tackle problems. Those skills are critical in any field of work that you wish to pursue! Doctors follow a systematic set of procedures to diagnose and treat their patients and lawyers must analyse every bit of their client’s case to form both their most advantageous and practical strategy.

When you read 2 books, you don’t just accumulate the knowledge of reading those 2 books in isolation. You gain the knowledge of those 2 books collectively. You read book 1 and learned a few things. You read book 2 and learned a few more things. But the knowledge you gained from reading book 1 opened up your mind, allowing you to understand and learn from book 2 in a far more enhanced way. You can draw connections between the two books, see patterns, and eventually extract a tremendous amount of value from both of them. Anyone who’s gotten into the great habit of regular reading can attest to this kind of compound interest.

Have you ever heard this saying:

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

People usually use it to refer to teamwork but it works for compound interest as well. When you read 2 books, you didn’t just read 2 books. You gained their collective knowledge with compound interest and all the dividends that interest will pay you in other areas of your life.

Recommended Reading

If you’d like to learn more about compound interest and stacking your habits, The Compound Effect is a fantastic book on the subject.

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