Small, Smart Choices = Big Impact

Big Impact

Knowledge — And How To Use It

Five years ago, I attended the Coach K and Duke Fuqua School of Business Leadership conference in Durham, NC. While I was there, I met a successful, middle-aged man from South Carolina who started his own investment agency. We struck up a conversation on the second day, and I said to him, “I don’t mean to sound conceited, but a lot of the topics of these presentations I’ve already heard or read before in books.” His response? “Most of us probably have, but few choose to take action with what we know.”

What he said is absolutely true. And, while some people do take action with their knowledge, few people take action with their knowledge, consistently. Why do you think a majority of people on exercise programs or diets fail? They start out great, but when they don’t see immediate results, they quit. They give up before giving their knowledge a fair chance to succeed.

I think about how this applies to our efforts with DRIVE. The same goes for kids – their success comes down to their choices and habits – making small, smart choices and completing them consistently over time.

We ask participants: “What are you going to eat today? Are you going to work out or go chill and play video games? Do you do your homework, or do you get distracted by what’s going on in the streets?”

We ask them to log the questions they have throughout each day and the choices make, and reflect on their effect:

“Do I stay out all night on the streets, or do I go to bed early so I can be the first one at the park before it gets packed so I can work on my game? Choices like these added up, and with a lot of hard work, I ended up earning a scholarship.”

“The people I grew up with were selling drugs or stealing cars. I knew if I didn’t work on my game and got caught up in that stuff, I’d be in trouble — dead, in jail or trying to make it out through basketball. It was my choice.”

The Compound Effect (a book, by Darren Hardy)

In his book, Darren suggests success comes from hard work, discipline and true commitment. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, we hold DRIVE kids to this standard – they face tough choices every day – and we try to educate them on the benefits of committing to using their knowledge over time. Our programs are far from “one and done”. Instead, we use them to help kids become healthy, fit and achieve their goals athletically over the course of time.

Take, for example, our individualized scholarships – between mentoring, tutoring, skill development and performance training, we spend approximately six hours per week with each of our participants. Will we see a difference after one week of the program? Probably not. After a month, we’ll have spent about 24 hours with them. At that point, we might start to see some improvements, but not lasting, impactful change. After a year, we’ll have spent close to 300 hours with a participant. Will we see lasting change then? Absolutely.

Over time, each one of those choices adds up to something big. The man in prison didn’t get there overnight, and neither did the NBA’s best players. The choices you make over time have a compound effect — on your future, on the life you live, and on the kind of person you are.

Darren makes this point very emphatically: “Don’t try to fool yourself into believing that a mega-successful athlete didn’t live through regular bone-crushing drills and thousands of hours of practice. He got up early to practice—and kept practicing long after all others had stopped. He faced the sheer agony and frustration of the failure, loneliness, hard work and disappointment it took to become No. 1.”