Is consistency a superpower?
We spend a lot of time looking at success (and failure) – trying to figure out what it is that makes some business owners succeed when others struggle.
There are lots of reasons and sometimes it’s as simple as someone being in the right place at the right time with the right idea. It’s a lot easier to sell a glass of water when your prospect is really hot and thirsty.
But there are also a lot of underlying traits that drive success – and those are the ones that really intrigue me – because generally those are the things that anyone can adopt if they’re aware and willing to put in the effort.
One of those underlying traits that drives success is consistency.
I’ve previously written about consistency in terms of your marketing efforts – What you need to win the marketing game – and while that still rings true (the need for consistent follow-up, marketing activities and messaging), consistency is actually a much bigger opportunity.
And to be clear, when I say consistency – it’s the idea of predictably and reliably following through on actions that will move you forward in a positive way. Obviously you could also be consistently incompetent but that’s not really helpful… (although even that might be better than being inconsistent and unpredictable).
The key to long term success is the idea of consistent improvement – and creating good, fundamental habits is the way to do that. But the challenge with this approach is that you won’t see noticeable results for quite a while. Go the gym 3 days in a row and you won’t look or feel noticeably different. Go to the gym for 3 months and you’ll start to see a difference. Likewise, if you eat a few twinkies in the afternoon you’ll be fine… but do that every day for 3 months and you’ll like start to feel it (and not in a good way).
And of course the reason why habits are so powerful is that once they’re set they tend to stay. Good habits will make you better over time – bad habits will bring you down. Look at your habits today and predict where you’ll be in 5 to 10 years. Are you spending more than you make? Are you not taking care of yourself? Are you investing in friends and family? These are all small things in the moment, but over time the right approach can make a huge impact.
Why is consistency a superpower?
The reason consistency is so important boils down to a couple of key, inter-related ideas.
“How you do anything is how you do everything.”– Attributed to T. Harv Eker and others
“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence therefore is not an act but a habit.”– Often attributed to Aristotle, but apparently first written by Will Durant in 1926
It’s easy (and dangerous) to get sloppy with the little things – to be inconsistent, but if you really buy into the two ideas above, it’s clear that consistently doing your best work is the only thing that makes sense if you want long term success.
The good news is that you don’t have to be brilliant to be consistent. You don’t have to have world class skills. You have to be good, always trying to get better and you have to commit to doing your best every time out.
That means all of us can be consistent – it’s a choice.
How can you develop consistency?
Your brain actually changes when you adopt a new habit. Repetition causes your brain to become more efficient – neurons fire more quickly, there’s less resistance and specific activities can make certain parts of your brain grow (just like working out a muscle). That means that the best way to establish a new habit is to build up more repetitions. There’s not a set number of days for establishing a habit – it’s really a function of repetitions.
The Law of Least Effort – Author James Clear in his fantastic book Atomic Habits talks about the Law of Least Effort. Most of us tend to believe that behavior change is all about motivation. If you want something enough, you’ll make it happen. The reality is that we are all inherently lazy and over time we tend to do what’s convenient. Motivation may push you for a while, but if your new behavior is too challenging it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stick with it. Imagine deciding that you want to start doing 100 push-ups a day. If you’re fired up you’ll be good for the first few days, but at some point that’s going to feel like a lot of effort and it will be very hard to maintain. A better approach is to focus on making it easy.
Want to go to the gym more? Find a gym that’s easy to get to and convenient. Want to be better at sending hand written cards? Buy them ahead of time and have them easily accessible. Want to eat better? Take some time on the weekend and cut up fruits and vegetables and store them for easy access during the week.
Researchers estimate that 40% to 50% of our daily actions are done out of habit. But the impact is even bigger than that because those small decisions made generally have follow-on implications. If I develop a habit of crashing on the couch in the evening, that’s a quick action, but once I’m there, I’m likely to stay quite a while. Alternatively if I decide to go to the gym, the odds are good that I’ll at least do something healthy once there.
Recognize that you’re not looking for a home run…
The reality is that success (of any kind) is a marathon. There’s no such thing as an over-night success. Instead, really successful people work for years on constantly improving, doing the little things that make a big impact over time.
You don’t need to swing for the fences to be successful. You just need to figure out the little things that, if done consistently, will move you in a positive direction.
The best way to build wealth is to consistently spend less than you make and put that extra money to work for you (investing).
The best way to be healthy is to find a way to stay active every day and do your best to mostly eat better. You can have a great cheeseburger if you want – just not every day. Most days you should be taking care of your self.
If you want to market your business, find an activity or two that will help attract your ideal customers to you and then do those activities on a regular basis (daily, weekly, or at least monthly). That could be posting on social media, writing a blog, creating videos… whatever might work best with your potential client base. The key is consistency… take action and continue to find a way to do better over time.
What do you think? Do you score high on consistency? Have you consciously thought about it? What’s one thing you could do on a regular basis (that you’re not currently doing) that would make a positive impact on your business or your life. What would it take to start doing that? Would you be able to keep doing it?
We’d love to hear your thoughts – leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach