Greatness Requires Consistency

I know, I know – I should be the last one to talk about consistency. I’m not the most consistent man on the planet, that’s for sure. However, I’ve achieved a fair amount of success. And I know that, in order to be successful, consistently doing the right thing is the key. I’m consistent in my study habits. I’m consistent in how I work out. I’m consistent in how I do my work (an hour and a half of work, followed by a 15 minute break). I’m consistent in how I do just about everything – and, yet, somehow, I haven’t become consistent in my work on this site, even though I’ve been “working on it” for a long time. Sidenote: even though I know what the right thing to do is, oftentimes, I don’t do it. That’s how hard implementing ANY advice is. So if you’re struggling with implementing self-improvement advice, don’t worry. You’re not alone. You can’t take days off from practice. You can’t use excuses to get you out of putting the time in that’s necessary to become great. If you want to be great at anything, everyone knows you have to practice a lot. The best way to guarantee that you practice the number of hours it takes to become great? You make it a habit. Forming great habits is the key to consistency.

A Parable

Jeff and Jack are best friends, and aspire to be master poetry writers. For some reason, poetry calls to both of them – or so they think. Jeff loves the craft of poetry. He views it as something he does for fun. He knows that more practice will make him into a great poet, but he doesn’t want poetry writing to turn into a chore. He wants to keep it fun and doesn’t want to turn it into something he hates. So, when he feels like it, he writes poetry. Other times, when he feels like it, he reads poetry. Sometimes these reading and writing sessions last all day. Other times, they last 15 minutes. It all depends on how Jeff feels. If he feels particularly frustrated, he’ll give up on poetry for the day and go watch TV. If he’s not having fun, he figures, why bother practicing? Jack knows that, in order to become the best poet possible, he needs to write and read a lot of it. He sets aside a couple of hours every evening, after his homework is done, to write and read poetry. For the first hour, he writes, and for the second hour, he reads. He does this like clockwork, every single day, whether he feels like it or not. On some days, when Jack really doesn’t want to write, he writes poems about how much he doesn’t want to write. When he has writer’s block, he doesn’t get up and do something else, he just sits there, pen in hand, waiting for something to get on the page. Even when the reading becomes tedious, he continues to read because he knows there’s something to learn from every poem he reads. Jack knows that the only way to improve his skills is to continue practicing — especially during the times that he feels like giving up. 3 years pass. Who ends up being the better poet? Who ends up extracting more enjoyment out of poetry in the long run? Hint: the two answers are the same.

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