The Ripple Effect: Understand How Consequences Work

Consequences mean actions matter. Even painful consequences reinforce the potency of our actions. Some actions deliver immediate consequences.

Consequences mean actions matter. Image of a person blowing down dominoes.

Consequences: immediate payment:

You get burned when you touch a hot stove. Confronting an angry person results in hostility. Disrespectful jokes wreck relationships.

Immediate effect provides learning opportunities. You think I won’t do that again.

Life is better when you avoid harmful actions.

Application: Provide prompt feedback.

Consequences: compounding interest:

Some actions are like compounding interest, they provide escalating impact. You get away with neglecting exercise and eating unhealthy food until heart problems smack you down.

The trouble with compounding interest on mistakes is…

  1. You don’t notice it at first.
  2. It demands radical intervention the longer you wait.
  3. Damage eventually becomes catastrophic.


#1. Investing in your future is undramatic. Taking a course or learning a new skill is less dramatic than touching a hot stove.

#2. Include a long-term perspective during self-evaluation.

  1. What long-term advantages accrue to your account based on recent behaviors?
  2. What does your future look like based on current patterns of behavior?
  3. How did you advantage the future of others last week?
Reputation is the way people assess the patterns in your life. Image of a 5-star rating.

#3. Consistency magnifies impact.

Wise decisions accrue advantage slowly. Going to the gym once won’t make a difference. A kind word spoken once won’t build a reputation for compassion.

Reputation is the way people assess the patterns in your life.

Notice the ripple effect:

Action is a smoke screen when it prevents self-reflection. I prefer busyness to reflecting on the impact of my actions on myself or others.

It’s dangerous to act without reflection Consider the trajectory of your actions.

How can you serve your future self today?

What behaviors bring advantage to others?

Still curious:

How You Have Inescapable Impact

The Boomerang Effect: The Dark Side of Enthusiasm

Building Your Reputation