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Success Journey XXIII: Consistency


When you look at people who are successful, you will find that they aren’t the people who are motivated, but have consistency in their motivation.~Arsene Wenger

In my university days, the big boys are often the loaded guys and great spenders who command influence and loyalty through acts of benevolence. Then came the era of quick bucks. You could break into the big boys club when you suddenly hammer in the Nigerian parlance. But my friend Joly Papa will only hail you as a Chairman if you maintain that status for long. Predictably few eventually qualify to be addressed with that title. The reason is simple; it is easier to hammer than to be CONSISTENT.

Consistency is a vital characteristic of success and it’s about repetitions that often involve iterations which ultimately lead to evolution.

Repetition: My dad told me that the average Onitsha trader is a millionaire because of consistency. Let’s take Main Market for instance. The traders (ndi oga) and apprentices (umu boy) wake up in the morning, shower and proceed to their respective shops at 6 am. The next day they repeat the same thing. Monday through Saturday, week in and week out, it is rinse and repeat. They rest on Sundays and use it for social engagements too. By the time you know it they would have marked 52 weeks.

I used to think this was a boring lifestyle till I had a discussion with my cousin who lives in Lagos. For an educated and sophisticated Lagosian, I found it odd that he had the same routine. His business is located on the Mainland and his home was just about 3 kilometres down the road. When he eventually moved to the Island after many years he continued driving to the Mainland daily.

When I asked why he did this, his response was concise.
“I get bored at home if I don’t leave the house by midday”.
I queried further, “Isn’t being at the shop daily monotonous?”
He replied, “Nope because no two days are exactly the same”.
“Ok, but you have two experienced shop attendants who run the day-to-day business, so why would you need to be present at the shop?”
Again his simple answer floored me.
“Well, my business often requires a personal touch for premium clients”. He explained that try as much as they may, his shop attendants will never replicate the marketing style he has perfected over the years.
So to him, it is like killing two birds with a stone; eliminating boredom and making money.

Iteration: In dynamic system analysis there is what is called the Chaos theory which states that; within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnection, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, and self-organization.

Though a computation terminology iteration is basically the repetition of a process in order to generate a (possibly unbounded) sequence of outcomes. Each repetition of the process is a single iteration, and the outcome of each iteration is then the starting point of the next iteration.~Wikipedia

Consistency isn’t about immediate results neither are repetitions about buxom gains. Rather these habits are about incremental progress over an extended period and these small gains are usually the outcome of iterations from errors, feedback or even distractions.

For instance, let’s consider the typical example of a football team. Each weekend a team of players engage each other in a contest to entertain us for 90 minutes. But what we don’t really get to see are the regular training sessions that go on during the week. Through repetitive practice, these players improve their skills and technique. By iteration (weekend contest) they either apply the skills/technique and win or commit errors and lose.

 The coach then draws from the feedback to do better next time. This is exactly why teams that have stuck together for longer have better win rates. There is little sense in repeating the same process over and over again if you don’t learn, unlearn and adapt to make progress.

Evolution: When you repeat the process and iterate for incremental gains, you will ultimately evolve. Consider a case in point like if you set a target of losing 5kg in a month. You can target 30-minute runs to burn 200 calories daily. But if you discover that you have shed only half a kilo in a week it’s time to iterate. You can adjust your nutrition to consume fewer calories and perhaps increase your jogging time to 40 minutes. I can assure you that by the end of another week, you would have shed over 1kg.

So you keep on improving and by the end of the month bang! You have lost 5 kg. You have evolved into a new weight category and it will be time to move on to the next fitness goal. But guess what? Whatever target you set next, it will still be the same process of rinse and repeat.

Steps You Can Take: Just like bad habits are tough to break good habits are equally hard to develop. But the good thing is that you can make the process simple not necessarily easy. However, once you get into the flow it becomes a part of you and thus easy.

I’m a work in progress and success is a journey so I share what is working for me and many others. There are countless ways to develop consistency in working towards your goal but in the last few months, I have found the following 5 methods to be the most impactful.

Set visible objectives/reminders: Be it your goal for the day/week/month/year or even your daily routine. Write it down and paste it somewhere you can always see it. Keep in your face!
It is easier to get distracted in our digital world but you can leverage the affordances of this same era to achieve your aims. I use reminders and google calendar.

Rise early: I call it the golden rule without which nothing will be achieved. My routine is 5 am: Prayer (ODB), brief exercises (squat/sit & Push-ups) 20 each and I’m set for my morning pages and deep work. My MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) are usually finished before midday when I stick to this rule.

Have a fitness routine: Whatever I do before 10 am is structured to lead up to that hour because that is officially my gym time. But because I own my time I’m able to vary it to suit my day. I can substitute this with long walks or working out at night before bedtime. Have a regular fitness hour and try to build your daily routine around it. It works like magic!

Have prompts to ACT: Like Wenger said it is not about motivation but consistent motivation. This requires prompts that stir your desire and actions that produce results. William Faulkner said; I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning. I have found podcasts and some people I follow like @dankoe who dish out value daily to be immensely helpful in stirring my desire to ACT.

Reduce social media: We can’t talk about this enough can we? We know what to do but we simply don’t do ENOUGH because we waste a lot of time discussing trivialities on social media. And TIME is a scarce resource. I spent over a decade doing this on Facebook for cheap dopamine but I haven’t been on the platform for 3 months now and may never return. No time is late but the best time is NOW. You can start with a complete shutdown (digital detox) for some time to reflect and strategies on how you can be more productive online.

Ultimately consistency isn’t just about yourself or your words or your actions. It is more than these things. By showing up repeatedly you make a bold statement to the world that you can keep to your word. It means you are reliable, dependable and trustworthy.

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