Ferocious Consistency

What if the real definition of Hell is that, on the last day of your life, the person you became meets the person you could have become? If you just felt that hit somewhere around your Solar Plexus, this article is for you. The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullsh*t story you keep telling yourself about why you can’t achieve it. Is it failure that you’re afraid of, or success?

The idea that we are not living up to our potential is so frightening that most people decide it’s much safer to play small and not see where their potential lies. Are you stopping short of the finish line? Perhaps your laptop has become the witness protection program for your most amazing ideas. The human brain is hardwired for safety, not success. To achieve success, you must be consistent. Period. Consistency is the difference between failure and success. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do every day that matters.

Consistency is as important as correctness. How can you ever be true to your word if your actions are inconsistent? Inconsistency is inherently sketchy and causes people to believe you have an ulterior motive. This has huge implications in personal relationships, business, health, fitness, and parenting. Essentially, consistency can be attributed to any aspect of life. Ferocious consistency is the key to success. Consistency leads to habits. Habits form the actions we take every day. Action leads to success. Being inconsistent is average while consistency leads to exceptional.

“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.”
― Roy T. Bennett

Reality Check

Some people associate consistency with boredom and a lack of initiative. If that’s your attitude, then success will be almost impossible for you to achieve. A cognition is an element of knowledge – an attitude, emotion, belief, value, behaviour, etc. When two cognitions are in direct conflict with each other, a state of anxiety (dissonance) is produced.

The cognitions of “avoid boredom” and “achieve success” exist in different locations in the brain. Both are trying to accomplish something important for the self. When two cognitions are in conflict anxiety (dissonance) is produced and grows until it becomes stronger than the cognition with the least amount of resistance to change.

When this threshold is reached, the subconscious mind is compelled to change, ignore, or modify the weaker of the two cognitions in order to dispel the anxiety. The processes of generalisation, deletion, and distortion are used to acquire, invent, repress, or modify beliefs to fit better with the behaviour – also known as denial. When the subconscious mind does this for you without your conscious awareness, it’s called repression. When you purposefully and consciously push it out of your awareness it’s called suppression. So, the first step to success is to get your thoughts and beliefs in order.

Consistency doesn’t mean trying for one day and giving up, nor does it mean doing the same thing over and over again in exactly the same way. What it does imply is doing what is successful over and again, while understanding the fundamentals of your success so you can improve upon them on a regular basis.

“When what you value and dream about doesn’t match the life you are living, you have pain.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Sustainability Over Speed

Consistency works because while continually starting has short-term momentum, it doesn’t build anything. Doing the same thing every day eventually snowballs into tremendous progress because it doesn’t stop. Consistency is about playing the long game.

When you care more about speed than sustainability, you approach goals with the drive to achieve maximum progress in the shortest amount of time. More, faster, sooner. The reason it’s easier to go for a day or a month, but not ten years, is that the two time frames require completely different mindsets. To do something for a day or a month, you are required to put in a lot of effort. To do something every day for a year, requires the opposite. The activity necessitates less effort so it will not exhaust you.

Hard work is important but if you cannot sustain that hard work, it isn’t worth it. Setting an impossible deadline and crushing yourself to meet it might mean you are useless for a few months afterward because of burnout. When you plan ahead, and set your projects up in a sustainable way, your health and the quality of the project won’t suffer.

“Consistency with the right strategic plan is the ultimate key to success. Yesterday’s action would never make up for today’s procrastination.”
― Edmond Mbiaka

Show Up Every Day, Not Once in Awhile

This lesson might sound redundant, but it’s often missed. Many people try to be consistent by doing something irregularly. Surprisingly, doing something every day or nearly every day is far easier to sustain than only doing it once in awhile. If you want to be consistent with a new habit, make it an irreplaceable part of your life. Make consistency your routine.

If you want to do something consistently, it needs to be so deeply ingrained that you roll around confused at night when it is missing. You can make something your normal by ritualising it and working to achieve certain milestones in your behaviour. If you do it the same way, almost every day, for a month, the new pursuit won’t stick out anymore. Keep it up for another ninety days and it will feel like home.

“Consistency is an under-appreciated inspirational quality. It’s that ability to conduct yourself in a
consistent, reliable manner that others will respect and appreciate.”
― Del Suggs

Consistency Cocktail

To really see upward movement in your life, you must learn how to create a consistency cocktail. Consistency is made up of three key ingredients and, like any good cocktail, ingredients need to be mixed in just the right amounts.

Ingredient 1: Walk Your Talk

This first ingredient makes up the largest part of your cocktail. You are what you do, not what you say you’re going to do. Walking Your Talk is the path of personal integrity. Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? Or does your language take you down roads you’re not willing to follow? Taking a closer look at how your words and deeds connect – or don’t – can help you see where you really stand. Once we stop to examine the impact that language has on integrity, an important question looms: If we are out of integrity with language, can we be in integrity anywhere else in our lives?

Think about your integrity in relationships, at work, in your body. If you are unable to speak honestly and kindly to yourself, will you speak kindly and honestly to others? If you are unable to keep your word to yourself, will it be possible for you to do it for anyone else? If you think you need to work on your character, the first place to look is at the patterns of your actions. See if your behaviours and the words that you promise are consistent with one another. If they are not, you know the place you need to start working on. Only once this is recognised can you begin to enhance your disposition. Consistency is key.

Ingredient 2: Find Your Why

If you’ve ever faced a significant crisis in your life, you will have experienced the power of purpose to tap reserves of energy, determination and courage you likely didn’t know you had. Your mission was clear. Your goal was compelling. Your focus was laser-like. Your potential was engaged. The power of purpose is similar to the energy of light focused through a magnifying glass. Diffused light has little use, but when the energy is concentrated, that same light can set fire to paper. Focus the energy even more (like a laser beam) and it has the power to cut through steel. Likewise, a clear sense of purpose enables you to focus your efforts on what matters most, which compels you to take risks and push forward regardless of the odds or obstacles.

Ingredient 3: A Little Disruption

This is the magic ingredient – you only need a pinch. Consistency without disruption is simply a routine. Disruption means moving from the status quo to the cutting edge. What have been your major successes in the past three months? How have you moved forward? Are you still moving in the direction you want to go? Is there a better way to do things?

Mixed correctly, this cocktail will allow you to develop increasing levels of confidence and become more purposeful with how you use your time and energy.

“If you’re not consistently carrying out your plan ninety percent of the time, you really don’t have a plan at all.”
― Alwyn Cosgrove

The 3 Cs of Customer Satisfaction: Consistency. Consistency. Consistency

It may not seem sexy, but consistency is actually the secret ingredient to making customers happy. “Sustaining an audience is hard,” Bruce Springsteen once said. “It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” He was talking about his journey to music megastardom, yet his words are just as applicable to the world of customer experience.

Consistency may be one of the least inspirational topics for most leaders, but it’s simply not enough to make customers happy with each individual interaction. A McKinsey customer-experience survey of 27,000 American consumers across 14 different industries found that effective customer journeys are more important than ever. Measuring satisfaction on customer journeys is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction. In addition, maximising satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential to increase customer satisfaction by 20%, lift revenue by up to 15%, and lower the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.

“My name is CONSISTENCY, I am related to SUCCESS.
We should hang out more often than…every once in a while.”
― Kim Garst

Making Strategy Happen

Kaplan and Norton say that failure rates for strategic planning are in the 70% to 90% range. That figure is outrageous by anyone’s standards! If you’re a leader who has had enough of strategic plans that go off the rails, change initiatives that flounder, or chronic underperformance, then it’s time to seriously examine your focus. Simply put, without the right focus, your organisation can’t win. Knowing what you need to do is one thing; having the will to execute consistently is another.

If there’s one thing that annihilates employee motivation, it’s when you as a leader are inconsistent. When you send mixed messages by saying one thing and doing another. Inconsistency not only demotivates your people, it kills your credibility and undermines performance. We’ve all seen it: The leader who promotes “we” yet behaves “me”. The leader who trumpets excellence yet tolerates mediocrity. The leader who points to the Moon yet refuses to provide the rocket. These leaders raise our hopes high and then snatch them away. It’s massively demotivating.

Less obvious, yet equally destructive, are the subtle inconsistencies that plague countless strategic initiatives. Consider the typical software implementation. You select a leading product from a reputable vendor, put everyone through training, and communicate expectations. However, if you don’t monitor adoption of the software, provide your people with feedback and support, hold those who don’t get on board accountable, and recognise those who do, the implementation will fail. Why? You’re not being consistent. Some of your actions are aligned with success, while others are not.

The solution to all of this is Ferocious Consistency. So, what does that look like? Ferocious Consistency is when everything you say and do is aligned with success. It’s when you create an environment in which everything your people experience continually and consistently points them in the right direction. 

So how do you know when you’ve created the right environment?

When your people …

… have a strong sense of purpose

… understand the organisation’s goals and their part in them

… know specifically what is expected of them

… are equipped with the knowledge, skills, resources and authority required to succeed

… are supported by the organisation’s processes, policies, structure and infrastructure

… are provided with feedback and guidance to help them improve

… are reinforced and held accountable as needed

… feel respected, valued and cared for as individuals

“Alignment is a force multiplier.”
― Gereon Hermkes

Successful Whole-Organisation Alignment

The difficulty here is that any single factor misaligned could cause you to fail. Consider this: If you communicate a goal but don’t provide the resources to achieve it, how are your people going to feel? Frustrated. If you provide resources but don’t communicate a goal, what will happen to the resources? They’ll be wasted. If you send people through training but don’t give them the authority to apply what they’ve learned, how will they feel? Not trusted. If you give them authority but don’t give them the skills to use that authority wisely, what kind of decisions will they make? Poor ones.

It’s critical to think of the right environment holistically. Everything needs to be aligned. You can’t stop short. Align most of the factors that impact your people and one misaligned factor could still cause you to fail. And there’s more…

All of this assumes that you have the right team. Yet if you put the wrong people in the right environment you will fail just as surely as putting the right people in the wrong environment. Which is why recruitment and selection are critical, strategic processes. Are you aggressively working to attract people who are highly capable and driven to win? And are you applying a rigorous selection process through which the right people will stand out? Building the right team and creating the right environment is a never-ending effort which is why it requires ferocious consistency. And it’s absolutely necessary if you’re committed to winning.

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.”
― John Wooden

Be a Finisher, Not a Starter

Anyone who has ever played Mortal Kombat knows that if you want to be successful, you must complete the job. Almost everything we do has multiple stages to completion and in many situations, you don’t actually create value until you finish the final stage. Farmers can’t sell their produce until it is harvested. White-goods producers can’t sell fridges that have only made it 90% of the way through the assembly line. Most employers aren’t going to pay you for having a degree unless you finished the last class and graduated.

When you have work in progress, the most valuable thing you can do is to pick something and finish it. Finishing is where you start benefiting from the value you’ve created. Successful people aren’t necessarily the ones who are the smartest or have the best ideas. They are often the ones who do the best job of taking an idea and completing it. A good idea fully executed is better than a great idea left unfinished. It’s easy to be a good starter. When something is exciting and new, enthusiasm is high and possibilities seemingly endless.  For every hundred starters there are probably only one or two finishers at the most.

The finishers are different. They have the same level of enthusiasm, but it’s controlled. They talk about their projects by outlining their goals in years, not in weeks and months. These are the people who go on to greatly eclipse the starters simply because they crossed the finish line. It’s good to be both a starter and finisher and it is difficult to be both. So, if you have to pick one, choose to finish. Choose to show up every day until the job is done. Choose the pursuit that appears more boring on the surface but has richer rewards in its depth. Choose to stick with a plan even if it isn’t paying out immediately. Choose to be ferociously consistent.

“No one has a problem with the first mile of a journey. Even an infant could do fine for a while. But it isn’t the start that matters. It’s the finish line.”
― Julien Smith


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