If you have been reading this blog for some time, or are a member of Adrian’s Hub, you know I’m a strong supporter of consistency of actions as an indispensable ingredient to long term success.
However, is it possible consistency is not always good? If so, when is consistency of actions bad for us?
Let’s review a few obvious choices, before we go any deeper.
Consistently finding reasons to take a break won’t make the work go away. Instead it will pile up.
If we consistently prefer to communicate via online channels instead of in person, that’s a bad kind of consistency that dehumanizes us. Why? Because online everything is “fixable”, children especially won’t know how to deal with real emotions or responsibility.
The examples could go on for a long time, but I’ll just add one more here: If we give up everything worthy to pursue soon after start, then we consistently choose not to succeed.
Consistency is studied by many, including very successful people. I went over some quotes before writing this blog post, and I saw there are diverse nuances, and even what appears to be contradictory statements. I chose three quotes from very well-known sources to see if we can find reasons to believe consistency is bad in some cases.
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”
― Anthony Robbins
This is a very good quote from Tony Robbins. To describe the true meaning of this quote, let’s say you are on a strict diet every three or six months. But the rest of the year you eat like you never saw food ever. Which do you think shapes your body, the diet or the regular eating habits? I bet on the second, and that’s consistency. In this example, consistency makes you fat. But don’t blame consistency! :) You could’ve consistently chosen to eat carefully.
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”
― Jim Rohn
You see, Jim Rohn doesn’t say anything about becoming successful if you consistently know everything about the world of the rich and famous. He says about basic principles which must be applied consistently. He underlined each of the basic principles in his books and seminars. So forget about consistently watching TV or reading tabloids and reading your favorite star’s latest social media updates and waking up a success.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
This is probably the most relevant quote for our topic today. For me, this refers to both actions that are obviously detrimental to your evolution, especially when done consistently, but also to more insidious situations, when it’s is hard to determine if consistency of actions is bad for you or you should continue to persist on the current path.
Here’s an example for the second possibility: you are engaged on a certain niche using certain marketing techniques; you haven’t seen great results so far, but you seem on to something; in the meantime, most of the successful people you know in the same niche have moved on and started using different techniques and tools, in tone with the times; what should you do? keep doing what you’re doing or change as well?
The answer might not be simple at all. If you consistently pursue your course of actions, you might become much better in an area which becomes obsolete. On the other hand, changes are rapid and speeding in the tech industry and anything connected to it. You might end up continuously chasing a changing trend, never mastering any technique or tool.
But when things become clear, it is “foolish” as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it to continue. Would you still be interested in a fax machine app?
Do you think this can only happen to you? Steven Sasson, an employee of Kodak invented digital camera in 1975, but the project was abandoned because they were a chemical company and interested in film cameras only. We know what digital cameras are today, while Kodak applied for bankruptcy in 2012.
Actions we consistently hold high in our priorities should not stop us to experiment new things! Or to consistently add new information to our mind, change or perspective when necessary, include new elements in our routine or update old ones.
In the end, it’s not consistency that may be sometimes bad for us, instead is the consistent prioritization of activities that undermine our progress. We know that when performed repeatedly, the effect of one action or activity, both positive and negative, is amplified. Thus, we have to be careful what we are consistent about.