Written by Shanna Kirkpatrick, Chara Founder
The Value of the Compound Effect
In 18 years of owning Chara Christian Dance Academy, I’ve found there is one thing—the “eighth wonder of the world”—that yields results no matter the application: the compound effect.
The compound effect is made up of small, consistent steps over time. Though often inconspicuous, these steps, when made with a goal in mind, lead to meaningful changes. Think about the tiny ways in which a pilot must consistently recalibrate the direction of a flight to bring you to a specific destination: that’s the compound effect at work, with the ultimate precision and care.
At Chara, Ms. Meghan recently gave our teachers an excellent example of the compound effect in creation. She said: “Science tells us that a lump of coal must, for centuries, withstand enormous pressure and heat to turn into a diamond. Coal must wait, through pressures and extreme stress, to achieve its ultimate goal.” The compound effect’s small steps over time process is often unseen by many. Because they are not obvious, the steps are not always recognized for their value—but they are there, creating micro-changes that eventually add up to a big impact.
In a world where instant gratification and splashy fame can seem like the norm, the compound effect shows that lasting results actually come from intentional, long-term effort. Even an “overnight sensation” may be the result of the compound effect, because actually that level of success took years of hard work! The lesson for our kids is monumental: achievements (of any size) are more lasting and rewarding when they are earned through a process.
As a parent, I’ve watched this lesson unfold with my children time and time again. My daughter, now seven years old, earned her independence in dance class as a preschooler. We had some hard days—yes, I was the mom committed to keeping her tiny dancer in the dance room despite her “strong feelings” most of those early weeks—but with consistent effort and patience over time, she was able to flourish on her own. Now, she confidently enters class on her own and feels more and more comfortable trying new things. I know more lessons are still to come as she grows.
Many unseen actions are happening under the surface at Chara Christian Dance Academy, allowing for lessons in the compound effect. It is apparent in class attendance, where there is a direct correlation in consistent attendance and greater and faster the growth of the dancer. It is clear in class progress too, when we see dancers consistently working hard in one level over the course of two or three years in order to accomplish the technical milestones needed for promotion.
It’s not just the students; our staff use the compound effect as we take seriously our commitment for the edification of kids and the glory of God through our work. Over the summer, for instance, we spent time meticulously freshening up and restructuring our class curricula. Classes are more aligned now because of this intentional effort. What a student learns in one Jazz II class is the same as another Jazz II class, and every skill learned in Jazz II is strategically planned in order to prepare the dancer for their eventual progression to Jazz III.
What a gift it is to be surrounded by the opportunities that the compound effect offers! This eighth wonder of the world might just be my favorite, as I see its impact on myself, my family, and within our Chara staff and students.
As Ms. Meghan taught us, the process of turning coal into diamonds is slow, arduous, and as mundane as watching water boil. Diamonds themselves, however, are anything but mundane! At Chara Christian Dance Academy, we are in the diamond business—partnering with parents to grow dancers into bright, radiant, multi-faceted, strong young women and men through the effort and beauty of the compound effect.