Adopt This Habit For Success
We all want to succeed—whether in business or in school; leading our organizations; developing our spiritual lives; strengthening our relationships with our spouses, kids, or friends; thriving in our personal growth and development; making more money; or simply making a difference.
There is one secret to guarantee your success. It is boring and dull, but it works every time.
So what is the secret? Drum roll, please…
I hope I haven’t let you down. Actually this should give you and me hope! Consistency is something any of us can achieve. Consistency does not require natural talent. Nor does it demand wealth, status, being well connected, or having mere luck. It’s not necessarily exciting, but anything worthwhile that was ever achieved happened because of consistency. When consistency is your north star, success will be your reward.
Successful relationships are born from consistent diligence to spend time together. They are sustained by a consistent commitment to understand ourselves and others. Sadly though, we see this failure in relationships all the time. We think just because we married someone who met our criteria as a spouse, that we are done. No, lasting relationships require consistent diligence.
Successful careers are built on the slow consistency of excelling at school, or being consistent to do the hard work. It comes from consistent dedication, day after day, month after month, year after year. Slow—maybe painful—but consistent.
Successful organizations are established when one person, or several people, are consistent to steadily build teams and systems.
How about successful spiritual awareness and relationship with God? Same answer. Consistency. Daily spending time with God. Reading the Bible. Being aware of His presence. Being intentional. Day after day.
As we look to 2015, as we set our goals and review our life values, I encourage you, as I am doing myself, to redouble your efforts to be consistent in the areas that you value most.
Why We Sometimes Lack Consistency
Too often, we are simply looking for tipping points, or ways we can just get across the finish line. I have to admit, crossing the finish line is enthralling. I remember the moment I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon. Albeit I was second from last, I did finish. And that was exciting! Being consistent to exercise alone for months before the race was not.
I remember when I played a piano concerto with the Port City Symphony at age eighteen. That was exhilerating! Practicing Mozart’s 21st piano concerto for five hours a day, alone, for months at a time, was not.
I recall walking across the stage in med school and having my brother, who is also a doctor, on stage with me to place the customary hood on my head. I loved that moment! I cherish that milestone in my life. I did not quite love the consistent studying, sleepless nights, and constant anxiety about my grades that I went through for ten years.
We are not realistic if all we expect to get in life are tipping points and exciting moments, without the consistent work and dedication that is required. There can be no finish line without consistent effort. You’d think I would remember that all the time. But, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I still find myself looking for that lucky break. When we think life is about stumbling into lucky breaks or exciting moments, we will have neither. When we think of life as a consistent effort, a slow march to upward, we will have many lucky breaks and exciting moments.
Stop looking for the tipping points. Start being consistent.
What Consistency Looks Like
Daily— Repeat and practice what needs your attention daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the situation. Discover the frequency and stick with it. I spend time with God daily. I read daily. I meet with my key people weekly. I write every weekend.
Boring—Even if you love what you do, admit it, sometimes you just don’t feel like doing the small consistent tasks to get you to your goal. Sometimes being consistent just feels dull, yet it is the very secret to achieving your success.
Slow—Probably the most accurate description of consistency is slowness. Most of the time it feels like you aren’t making any progress, that you are wasting your time. But be encouraged, it is those small, daily strokes to the tree that will one day make it fall.
How to Achieve Consistency
1. Focus on the value of consistency. Make it one of your life disciplines. Here are my written personal values. I read them daily. Consistency is one of them.
- Love—I truly care about your wellbeing.
- Grace—You may not deserve it, but I will give it to you anyway.
- Magnanimity—I may have the power and right to hurt you, but I won’t.
- Judging—I am not better than you.
- Humility—I could be wrong.
- Gentleness—I will treat you with kindness and calmness always.
- Generosity—I will be a person who gives more than he takes.
- Patience—When things go wrong, smile, and let it be. Be patient, yet deliberate.
- Consistency—I will be steady and unwavering when I seek victory.
2. Maintain self-accountability. Come up with a system to hold yourself accountable. I have an Excel spreadsheet to check off when I do my daily tasks in any given area.
3. Seek other means of accountability. Ask others to hold you accountable.
4. Weather the critique. This is huge. Others will undoubtedly come your way, and cause you to question why you are doing what you are doing.
5. Weather your inner voice. This may be our biggest danger. We have to deal with our inner voice that says, “That’s enough pain. It’s time to quit.”
6. Plan for it. Are you creating places in your calendar for your consistent actions?
A Final Word
So what is the one habit you must adopt in order to achieve success? After you aim high and plan your way, be consistent to take the actions that will get you there. And when you are doing the slow, boring, thankless steady work, know that’s exactly what will get you to your target!
Actionable step: Write down your values. Review them often. Make consistency one of them. As you plan for next year, decide in which areas you will be consistent.
About me… I rode my bicycle across the state of Iowa last year in the well-known bike ride called RAGBRAI. We rode 40 to 80 miles daily under the hot July sun, and at night camped in our own tents, and showered in schools. There were 15,000 riders moving through the rolling, farming hills of Iowa. It was an experience of a lifetime that you should consider if you like cycling. I wrote about my journey in these blogs:
For Further Reading: