Consistency: How a pattern shapes your outcome

What is the first thing that pops into your mind when it comes to consistency?

  • Be consistent with your diet and you will lose weight.
  • Be consistent with your studies and you will graduate with honors.
  • Be consistent with practicing your skill and you will achieve excellence in it.

Malcolm Gladwell sold copy after copy of the book “Outliers” because of the section the dives into the idea that 10,000 hours is what it takes to become an expert at something. Agree or disagree, that has been the consistent quoted and discussed section.

Usually when people think about the action of consistency, they think of it in a positive manner. People think that being consistent can only bring about good things. What I want to put before you is the full potential and danger of consistency and how there are patterns for everything you do, positive or negative.

James Bailey

Jame Bailey was born in 1979 on a day so cold the the hospital kept losing power. He almost died due to complications. 12 hours after he was born his mother passed. There was no father and he became a child of various relatives.

13 year later I saw James on the side of the gas station up my street. He had stolen watermelon wine coolers, Kools, and was playing on a Gameboy. I walked up and he said “Hey, do me a favor will ya? Poke your head around the corner and tell me if the tall and skinny cashier is still working?”

I stuck my head around the corner and the woman I referred to as “Pirate Helga” was working. Yes, I really did call her that. I was 11, give me a break.  I called her that because she was the size of a gladiator and always had one eye closed from the cigarette she held in the corner of her mouth.

I said “Nope, he isn’t working.” James shrugged, said thanks and gave me a few wine coolers for my troubles. I sat down and James started to tell me that he was going to be the next video game champion. He was going to get out of this neighborhood and get paid to play video games.

This was a dream of a lot of people where I grew up. In my area, kids would carry their game stations from house to house and have play offs. Every couple of weeks there would be a different tournament depending on the game. It might even be safe to say that most crimes that occurred within our blocks by kids were because of the need to buy a new video game. Since we had a lot of kids and only needing 1 or 2 of the same game, it ended up working out well for most.

James was the “King” of those mini gaming tournaments. Whenever I saw him he was playing a video game or trying to steal something to buy a video game. When he was 14, he ended making it out to California for a NBA Jam Tournament.

As the years went by, James spent less time gaming and more time getting into trouble. The bad in his life increased and the hope for positive change decreased. At 17, he ended up in jail for a few years because of stealing a car and running from the police. I don’t know what he is doing now. Last I heard, he has been in and out of jail two more times.

Mourn Consistency

The take home point is that James let his bad habits increase. He let fade away one of the few positive things he had in his life. He became consistent on negative acts towards himself and others, and it payed off. That dedication and focus he put into becoming a full time thief and putting aside the dreams he had for his future landed him right where his 10,000 hours should have.

Did you realize that is was the 10,000 hours of overeating that landed you to being overweight?
Did you realize that is was the 10,000 hours you said you weren’t going to move or exercise that lead to you being out of shape?
Did you realize that is was the 10,000 hours of thinking about only yourself that lead to your relationships with people crumbling?
Did you realize that you could have spent 10,000 hours doing something to better your life, instead of complaining about why it wasn’t fair?

Who you are over and over again is who you are.

Brief victories are only just that, brief. That doesn’t mean a moment can’t create a lifetime of better consistencies or a horrible tragedy to forever alter your path. But as a whole, it’s who you are everyday that counts.

Consistency is Boring?

Some of the worst quotes ever snagged were on the topic of Consistency. Here are two examples.

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. – Oscar Wilde

Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as for the body – Aldous Huxley

Can one not be consistent in adventure? Can one not be consistent in change? Can one not be consistent in not being boring? I propose that it is the consistent belief in yourself that gives you wings.

Closed minds there Wilde and Huxley.

Twain said it best when he said:

What, then, is the true Gospel of consistency? Change. Who is the really consistent man? The man who changes. Since change is the law of his being, he cannot be consistent if he stick in a rut.

Consistency isn’t boring. Being boring often makes your consistently boring. You can quote me on that.

3 Exercises for Consistency Awareness

You can shape your consistency into whatever you want it to be. You can be consistently amazing, strong, lean, smart, and confident. You can consistently be whoever it is you want to be and it is in that very consistency that takes it from a fluke, to being a defining characteristic.

Using these 3 exercises will help you do this that much faster.

#1 – The Name Game

Do you remember when you were a kid and your teachers would have you write your name downward on  a piece of paper and then next to each letter you have to write a word that describes you? It might seem cheesy but it can be more telling of how you see yourself than you think.

I had a client do this 2 years ago and then again recently. Here is the example.

justine-name-game

It seems pretty obvious to me the positive changes that have taken place, even on subtle levels. Why? During the span of  those 680 days Justine was consistently working on better herself. She was consistent in defining her identity and what she wanted it to be. She did 20 name drafts between Day 1 and Day 680. This is the one she keeps in her purse to remind her of what her consistent identity is.

#2 The List

What do you want to be consistent in? What do you want to no longer be consistent in?

Make a list of 5 things on each side. Don’t overwhelm yourself with 101 things you want to change.  5 things you no longer want to be consistent in, and 5 things you want to improve your consistency of.

Example:

No – 1.Lazy 2.Unrealistic 3.Overly Fearful 4.Static 5.Whiny

Yes – 1.Strong Physically 2.Reliable 3.Inspirational 4.Lean 5.Independent

#3- The Question

What was I consistent with today?

Be it on a post-it note or you printing out this post, ask yourself this one question constantly. Pick a time of the day that works for you. I like mid-day better than bedtime because there is still time to change the outcome of that day.

Never try to sort through your day at bedtime. It is an instant step in the direction of self loathing and regret. It gives way to phrases like “Tomorrow is a new day” and “Everything will look better in the morning.” While these sayings have their place for hope, they are crap for action.

Instead, say to yourself as you are living the day “What was I consistent with today?” Worst case the next morning say, “What was consistent about yesterday?”

Remember that the answers need to be realistic and of the good and the bad.

  • Today I complained consistently.
  • Today I punked out on being who I said I was more than not.
  • Today I tracked my food intake consistently.
  • Today I thought of her/him constantly.
  • Today I dreamed of my dream consistently.
  • Today I made the chance for tomorrow better, again.

It may be 1 answer or 10 answers, but the final question for you right now is:

What will your next 10,000 hours be?

Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian. This is merely an opinion blog. Read full disclaimer here - http://www.leighpeele.com/disclaimer