Consistency : the mantra for success

Month of May starts Tennis Grand Slam events, which have been of both excitement and interest to me. I would look forward to seeing my favourites, Roger Federer, Novac Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal play out, first at the French open on the clay court and then immediately at Wimbledon on the grass. And year after year, I’ve been mesmerized at how Federer and Nadal manage to keep themselves at the top, with their practiced serves and shots, nimble footwork and cool mind. Seeing them play for a few hours tells the untold stories of consistency of decades behind this accomplishment. From tiny tots wielding rackets half their heights, to the teenagers bursting on the pro circuit, these tennis aces have managed to stay put despite injuries and stiff competition from the top ones as well as the newbies. ‘Consistency is a big thing in our sport. Can you serve like this for five hours? That’s the goal’, said the Swiss maestro Federer. ‘When you’re carrying an injury, clearly it’s tougher, finally, when you’re free again, you find better zones, more consistency’, he added, making it amply clear that every sportsman swears by consistency.

Don’t you think that applies to all areas of life, why just sports?

In myreview on the bestselling book ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear, I wrote on how the author elucidates on the power of consistency in setting new habits and deleting old unwanted ones. Small changes in your daily actions go on to yield long term results, he says, adding that ‘the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to break’. Good or bad, habits are formed when we consistently behave in that manner. In fact, winners and losers have the same goals. What differentiates one from the other is where they give up. It is in fact a classic example of compound interest accumulating silently in your account!

Mohammed Yunus from Bangladesh won the Nobel prize in 2006 for founding the Grameen Bank and boosting micro finance as a means to help people rise out of poverty, one taka (the local currency) at a time. Small savings and small credit have both helped people in many ways and have proven that consistency in saving is something one can never underestimate.

So what is this consistency and how does it play out?

Doing something again and again, without giving up is consistency in its simplest sense.

People realize the power of consistency when they set goals and also set systems and processes to achieve them. Merely setting goals will never yield desired results if you don’t act on it consistently. I know of many entrepreneurs who set out small and kept going at it even when things were not looking promising. From bloggers who kept posting on their blogs, to actors and businessmen, it is this one trait that separates them from those who give up.

It takes time for something to succeed. Malcolm Gladwell, who I was hooked to a few years ago for his research based books and ground-breaking theories, propagated the 10000 hour rule. Gladwell famously said that it takes a minimum of 10000 hours of practice for someone to excel in his/her endeavor (music, sport, craft). What he meant was pure consistency at play. Keep practicing. Keep improving. Don’t ever give up. Then before you know it, you’ve aced your game.

Who must practice consistency?

Simply put, everyone.

  • The mother who’s trying to potty train her toddler.
  • The father who is holding his daughter’s cycle till she balances on her own.
  • The teacher who’s teaching algebra to a disinterested or perplexed class who just don’t seem to understand it.
  • The athlete who’s not getting that desired jump on the pole.
  • The singer who’s learning to sing a note perfectly.
  • The man who’s trying to get the perfect flakes for his bakes.
  • The boy who’s attempting to lose weight and sweating it out at the gym (Oh! He has additional temptations to duck the gym- the food, the pain in the muscles, the lack of motivation, the rain, the heavy work, no time… you get it?).

Who do you think will get the desired results?

The key here is to keep the efforts small but consistent. Our mind and body refuse to accept any drastic changes in the routine. They love status quo. So when you try to change things at once, it retaliates. Small doses of efforts remain under the radar of the mind and body allowing you to assimilate those changes till you begin seeing visible impact.

A friend of mine knows of an80-year-old doctor who is memorizing the 18 chapters of the Bhagwad Gita (the Indian spiritual book, a sermon given by Lord Krishna to Warrior Arjuna on the battlefield of the Mahabharata). When asked why he’s doing it at this age and how. He toldthat he memorizes a couple of verses every day. It took him close to three years to memorize all the 745 verses. How could someone maintain these high levels of motivation and dedication day after day at this age? Hesaid his medical practice has helped him never to give up on any patient till he is cured. Our efforts must work like the medicine, bit by bit till the aim is achieved, he said.

How does consistency help?

  1. It gives you a reason to keep trying and practicing
  2. It allows you no window for excuses
  3. You are recognized as someone who can deliver, a bankable person because you’re consistent at what you do
  4. It becomes easier to measure outcomes and success because it has been consistent
  5. The chances that a consistent person will succeed in any endeavor are always more than that of someone who gives up easily or sets unrealistic targets for himself.
  6. Being consistent does not overwhelm you because you’re at it for a long time, one tiny thing at a time.
  7. Consistent people accept responsibility and accountability better.
  8. In business, as in sports, consistency helps keep anxiety and disappointment at bay. Small baby steps that help chart a long distance build resilience.
  9. Consistent people never lose focus on what they have set out to achieve

What are some of the things that you do to display consistency as a trait in your behavior? Have you seen someone do this? Take a moment and comment below.

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