Published in the June 7 – June 20, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Diana Wood

Diana Wood

I remember it was like yesterday. Perhaps you have a similar memory of a first-time parent’s mistake. Serena, my oldest daughter, always had a difficult time falling asleep. I made a huge rookie mistake when she transitioned from her crib to her toddler bed.

For some reason I thought that after reading her a bedtime story, Serena would have an easier time going to sleep in her new bed if I turned off the light and stayed in the room for extra hugs. As a result of my having an exhausting day, the extra hugs turned into my falling asleep. Then after 30 to 60 minutes I would wake up and oh-so-carefully slip out.

For those seasoned parents reading this, you may know exactly what happened as a result. The extra 30 to 60 minutes turned into an everyday expectation. I found myself succumbing to my precious daughter’s tears and pleas to stay until she fell asleep. My innocent action to “help” compounded into a nightly routine of trying to find creative ways to sneak out without Serena waking up. It even resulted in my attempting a stealthy slide across the bedroom floor. I was desperate. I so wished that I had “Mission Impossible” agent training. I was sure propelling from the ceiling as a way to escape without waking her would have been an excellent plan. Seriously, who do you think was in charge? The toddler or the parent?

I used to have a very limited view of compounding in that it was mostly a word that related to financial investments. In his book “The Compound Effect,” Dave Hardy wrote: “The compound effect is the strategy of reaping huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions. You cannot improve something until you measure it. Always take 100 percent responsibility for everything that happens to you.” My seemly insignificant actions absolutely produced huge rewards, but unfortunately not for me the parent.

What I find interesting about Hardy’s quote is the words “huge rewards” as this phase is purely subjective. Clearly, Serena benefited from the reward. Me, on the other hand? I created a pattern, a habit, an expectation. Serena is 15 now and has obviously outgrown her toddler bed and need for extra hugs to fall asleep. Today I wonder how many times in the past 15 years have I repeated this “like” pattern, habit and expectation.

How a person does anything is how they do everything. One of my most favorite quotes from John Maxwell is: “Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is the best teacher.” When I reflect upon John’s quote in combination with the portion of Hardy’s quote that states “Always take 100 percent responsibility for everything that happens to you.” I start to see the pattern of how other metaphoric toddlers have been running my life.

What thought patterns, habits and expectations are compounding in your life? Your mission, if you chose to accept it, is to take 100 percent responsibility for the leadership of your life and dedicate at minimum 10 to 15 minutes each morning to evaluate what’s compounding in your life. Do you like the results? Remember, how you do anything is how you do everything. Take action in compounding that which you value in your life and reap your huge rewards.

Morgan Hill resident Diana Wood is the president and CEO of Wood Motivation and Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team. Reach her at