February 22, 2010
Consistency is a double-edged sword. On one hand without consistent effort or practice toward a goal you’re not likely to reach it. Think exercise or sports for example: to be effective exercise must be done consistently, as in regularly. To become a world-class athlete requires hours, days, weeks, months and years of consistent practice and effort.
In sales, those who consistently prospect and follow up have a much higher closing ratio than those whose efforts are sporadic. If you run a business, providing your clients or customers with a high quality, consistent experience is essential to your success in the marketplace. And in thinking, our consistent thoughts tend to produce experiences and results that align with those predominant thought patterns.
Even that great philosopher of our time Woody Allen weighed in on the subject of consistency when he said: “90% of success is showing up;” I would add “consistently.” Consistency is the mother of habit, and without effective habits, it’s next to impossible to create the kind of results we want in life.
But, the flip side, and “paradox of consistency” is that if we aren’t careful, consistency can harden into rigidity. And rigidity often leads to extinction. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it succinctly: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” The emphasis here is on the word “foolish.”
I once worked with a woman whose husband insisted on eating the same thing for dinner in the same rotation every week! Talk about foolish consistency. There’s a fine line between a consistent beneficial pattern and a rut. But in this day and age, with life and business conditions changing at mach-speed there is a lot to be said for staying nimble and examining your behavior patterns to see if they are working for you or against you.
So this week, I invite you to take a look at the two sides of consistency and ask some pattern-busting questions:
From exercise to sales to relationships and everything in between, consistency plays a critical role in success. Think of those people who are always starting some new venture but never stick with it long enough to get where they’re going. Or those who change methods so often things don’t have the opportunity to gel and produce results. What about the people who are constantly on the hunt for the latest, greatest diet only to fail again and again because of their lack of consistency?
Then consider the flip side: maintaining patterns that have ceased being productive, living out that other oft-quoted pearl: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
Today, take a look at the patterns in your life and/or business. Don’t confuse the pattern with the method. Back to the exercise example for a moment. It’s essential to maintain the consistent exercise pattern but change the routines and activities to add variety, keep yourself from getting “bored out” and perhaps most importantly, avoid hitting a plateau. Be on the lookout for the plateau’s; they’re usually signals that something needs to change—not just in exercise but in everything.
What would you have to do differently this week to get a better result—whether in relationships, fitness, sales, personal finances, your business or a favorite hobby?
We need a certain degree of consistency to produce consistent results. But consistency needs to be balanced, conscious, strategic and goal-directed to achieve results. When you stop getting the results you want, it’s time to examine your methods and the patterns that have dictated your behavior and adjust accordingly.
Here’s to a successfully consistent week!
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