I am sure that my learned readers are familiar with Aesop’s fable of The Tortoise and the Hare. The hare is spectacularly advantaged over his opponent but it is the tortoise’s consistency which gets him over the line. To put it bluntly, the hare goofs off. To put it even more bluntly, the tortoise knew that the hare would goof off which was why he challenged him to the race to begin with. Always know your opponent better than he does.
There are lots of lessons in that little fable but the one that I want to elaborate on today is the art of consistency. Consistency is to success in life what confidence is to success with women.
Right now I’m having the best results in the gym that I have ever had over the course of 30 years of lifting the weights. The program that I’m following is undoubtedly a big part of that, as is the fact that I am being so careful with my technique. But what has really nailed it for me is my consistency. The program states that I have to go three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and by God I’m going three days a week. Consistently.
The biggest gains that I’ve had, (moar gainz!), have been in the past four months, and it is no coincidence that this has coincided with my rigorous consistency. I followed this same program for almost a year in Australia but I was less consistent. Three days one week, then two days the next, then maybe back to three or it might have been just a single day. You get the idea. I didn’t see any of the gains that I’m getting now. Same program, same technique – less gains.
It’s the consistency, baby.
Back when I was teaching English in Italy, my greatest success story was a barber from a little mountain town with no real education to speak of. He decided to come along to a course and he didn’t have the imagination to second guess what I was teaching. He followed my directions to the literal letter. After six months I told him that he didn’t need my services any more. He wasn’t particularly intelligent but he was entirely consistent.
If I look back over my life, my greatest achievements have one common element to them – consistency. Whether it was learning the guitar, becoming a rafting guide, opening my own bar, learning Italian, publishing my first book, or any other goal or pursuit in which I excelled, being consistent was the difference between success and failure. Equally, if I consider where I failed then it was my lack of consistency that let me down.
This blog has become a success due to my consistency.
Last weekend I had occasion to discuss consistency with someone. This young guy has spent 2017 turning his life around. At the start of the year he was a dope smoking loser with a girlfriend that sponged off him and he was close to getting fired from his job due to his lack of commitment, an outcome that would not have been unfamiliar to him. Nine months later and he has jettisoned the girlfriend, completely abandoned the drugs, is killing it at the same job, and is tearing it up on the football field.
His consistency has been a big part of his success but yesterday I needed to remind him of that. Because there was talk of him maybe needing to go traveling, to lie in the sun somewhere; after all, he “deserved” it.
It’s all too easy to wander off track when you’re on the mundane journey known as adult life. After all, what could the harm be? The little voice in your head convinces you that you’re wasting your time anyway. Surely it would be better to be off somewhere having fun. The trouble is, this guy spent the past ten years doing exactly that. But now that he’s finally seeing some success for the first time in his adult life, he wants to slip back into the past behaviors. It’s all too easy to do.
But we had a good talk and I got him back on track. Sometimes that’s what you need; a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing. The thing is, I wonder where I’d be now if I’d had an older guy to talk things over with and help me stay on track when I needed it. To read me the riot act when I needed to hear it.
Because that’s what we need sometimes; the riot act. No soft words or subtle anecdotes carefully interspersed so as to not cause offense. Cause offense, for God’s sake. Give them a verbal slap around the ears.
One of the things that young guys need to understand is consistency. You’re jealous of the guy with lots of money and nice toys? Most of the time it comes down to hard work, not taking no for an answer, and consistency. Twenty years of that and you’re looking at a solid base. A fortress of solitude. If I had my time over again I would be more consistent.
But who I am kidding? I’ve got loads of opportunity to be consistent right now. Learning Dutch, finishing my next book, finding the right house in the right part of Holland, setting up a new business; it’s all going to come down to consistent effort.
And another cup of coffee.