Updated: Aug 21, 2021
There are many articles out there that talk about consistency being the key to success. We all know that consistency is essential, and I believe we all appreciate consistency greatly. We judge when someone is not consistent with their words, or their behavior is not aligned with what they preach. Inconsistency seems to be one of the critical values that our brain registers automatically and based on which we evaluate if someone is "a friend or a foe." How can I trust someone if he/she is saying one thing but continues to act differently? Typically, people and companies who are inconsistent lack trust, and we all know when trust is missing, things spiral out to many other problems. When we see inconsistency, our brain automatically triggers warning alarms.
If you doubt this statement, try this:
Would you continue going to a restaurant with inconsistent quality of service?
Would you continue going to a gym if the performance of the trainers was inconsistent?
Would you continue showing up to your singing classes if your singing instructor would be inconsistent with his/ her attendance?
Would you continue going to a coffee shop where every time you order your favorite cup of latte, you got a cup of coffee that tastes differently?
Would you continue trusting your boss if he/ she kept saying all the right things, but his/her behavior and actions are not aligned with his/ her words?
Would you continue being in a relationship if your significant other kept behaving in ways that are not consistent with his/ her words?
I am guessing that the above questions were quick and easy for you to answer with a single word - NO. We all enjoy going to our favorite Thai restaurant and ordering the same Phanaeng Curry because it always has the same great taste, color, spiciness, and portion size. We know exactly how it tasted when we ordered it last time, and we expect it to be always the same. We enjoy going to our favorite coffee shop because they make a consistently fantastic latte with the same taste of coffee beans and the same frothed milk in the same sized cup. Finally, we enjoy relationships we have built because we took a lot of time and effort to get to know another person. We understand how the people in our circle act and behave - their behavior became consistent.
So, the real question is, if we all know and understand that consistency is essential and we all admire and value consistency, why is there still so much inconsistency?
I believe the reason for it is that inconsistency is very easy to spot on others; however, it may not be as easy to evaluate internally for ourselves. Additionally, consistency takes a lot of effort, and really, who likes to work hard? We all like shortcuts. The trick about it is that consistency has no shortcuts.
In tennis and all other sports or any other craft for that matter, consistency is what separates the good from the great. Do you want to be a great tennis player? You must not just train consistently; the key is to perform consistently well during matches and tournaments and consistently deliver a high level of performance over days, months, years. How does one achieve such greatness? By being consistent in the first place.
Consistency is key to building any habit and any skills.
Do you want to improve self-control and mindfulness? Building in 10min a day of meditation/ mindfulness practice every day creates better results than meditating once a week for an hour.
Do you want to improve your fitness? Working out for 10-15min every day drives more significant results than working out once a week for 60-80 minutes. And consistency in working out is even more critical as we age.
Are you focusing on improving your nutrition? We all know that eating high-quality food consistently will drive bitter results than overeating for five days a week and then fasting for two days.
So what if we all made consistency a choice?
Who do you want to be/ become?
Where do you need to build more consistency?
What skills and habits do you need to create/ improve/ eliminate?
Where do you need to invest a consistent effort so you can become consistently excellent at whatever you want to excel at?
One of my favorite quotes from a Jerry Seinfeld interview on the Tim Ferris show:
"Well, I would teach them to learn to accept your mediocrity. No one is really that great. You know who’s great? The people that just put tremendous amount of hours into it. It’s a game of tonnage."