Chris is fascinated by the power of consistency.
There’s a great quote by Harvey Mackay; “If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent, you will keep it.”
I believe the power of consistency relates directly to positively building habits that influence our behaviour. Consistency builds momentum. And once you have momentum, you have movement. Once you have movement, you generate energy. Once you’ve achieved that, you can keep going through consistent repetition. That’s what I did in my swimming; once I started moving, it was just a question of keeping it going.
For example, if you lifted weights and ran on the treadmill at the gym for 24 hours, would you be any fitter tomorrow? Not really. But if you did the right type of training, for an hour a day for 24 days, you’d become fitter in those 24 days. And that’s the key to consistency. It’s understanding that the activity and the gaps in between are both as important as each other.
The greatest athletes in the world use consistency as part of their practice to hone their skills. The margins of error in sport, as in business, are so fine that you need to be consistent over a long period of time.
I was chatting with a client last week and I said, “Dysfunctional teams can win. Don’t let anybody tell you that disorganised, inconsistent, and even unhappy teams can’t win because they can. But they can’t win long term. They only win in the short term. That’s the difference and where consistency comes in. When we’re consistent with our behaviours and habits, it leads us to achieving our potential, or at least being enlightened as to what our potential is, because we see it on a daily basis.”
I remember my sports psychologist, Simon Hartley, saying, “Is the match-winning shot at Wimbledon a match-winning shot, or is it just another shot?” Initially, I believed it was the match-winning shot but when I thought about it, the shot became just another shot. It’s the story you put around it. So, the question is, how did the best in the world hit that shot better than anybody else? It’s because they consistently practiced being in that environment. They consistently put themselves out, physically and emotionally.
Why is that important? It relates to the habits and behaviours you consistently build up that create momentum, helping you stay motivated and concentrating your efforts on progress. I find that some people don’t want to be consistent because they’re too busy trying to focus on being perfect and not making progress.
My five top tips to focus on the power of consistency:
1. Be organised and transparent. I recently switched to a digital diary. I know that’s quite embarrassingly late, but I wanted to be consistent with the people that I work with, and they didn’t have visibility on my consistency. If you’re not organised and planned, consistency dissipates everywhere. You can become consistently disorganised. But my simple approach to becoming organised just involves scheduling time with myself.
2. Rest and recovery are vital. We’ve all read scientific studies that show we need between seven to nine hours of sleep each day. Honestly, during really stressful times, when I’m disorganised, I’m inconsistent and that’s often the time when I sleep less because the stuff I need to do is on my mind. Many people don’t rest and recover sufficiently, to be ready for that next onslaught. A person may come back to work saying they feel like they’ve not been away from the place. Chances are they haven’t properly focused on rest and recovery in their mind.
3. Stress is not the enemy… stress is a mind-created reality. If you create stress, you can define and control how you respond to it. I’m not saying stress doesn’t feel real. It does feel real, and I feel stressed at times. But while I may not be able to control the stressful situations in my life, I can control how I respond. That’s the difference. My suggestion is to view stress through a different lens – reframe it and respond differently. Focus on having an effective mindset to reframe it.
4. Move your body and preferably in the morning. Health research shows that when you work out in the morning, you’re more likely to make better decisions throughout the day. Movement, meditation, yoga, or high/moderate-intensity aerobic exercises support our brains to function better.
5. Take time to peek over your shoulder. You should celebrate your progress as much as your successes. Don’t just wait for the outcome to happen. Don’t wait until you’re standing on the podium with a gold medal. Celebrate the fact that you achieved a full week of consistent work. Give yourself a reward, something you really enjoy. The power comes from being in control of the progress. If you only ever focus on the outcome, you miss the chance to control the process. Some of the best athletes and business leaders I’ve worked alongside understand that they can influence progress 100%. They can’t influence the outcome directly. They achieve that through the process and the progress being made.
Consistency gives you full visibility of what’s happening at any given moment, about the progress that you’re making. For example, if I gave you a five-step process and you worked through it consistently, you could review it properly. But, if you skipped out stages three and four, you’d only have part of the process to review. I see this sometimes in teams. People skip a part of the process because they’re desperate to reach the outcome due to time pressures and budget constraints. When we follow the process, we’re consistent with it. We can tweak it and refine it and that’s where our power comes from.
What tips on managing the power of consistency do you have?