The Power and Paradox of Consistency: An Under Appreciated Key to Success

In this article, we delve into the critical but often under-appreciated role of consistency in achieving success, and the potential pitfalls to be aware of.

Heather Pridemore

5/24/20233 min read

During a conversation a while back, someone asked me to what I attributed my success. "Consistency," I replied. I could tell my answer was unsatisfactory and underwhelming based on their body language, but in my eyes, consistency might be one of the most under-appreciated keys to success.

Its power lies in its ability to shape habits, foster trust, facilitate progress, and construct a solid reputation. However, a deeper examination reveals a complex picture: consistency is a double-edged sword, capable of both propelling growth and stifling innovation.

The Power of Consistency

Consistency, in my experience, has a significant positive impact. It is the backbone of trust, the engine of progress, and the architect of reputation. It underpins our habits, forms the basis of our skills, and paves the way for reliability and learning.

Consistent behaviors and outcomes, particularly in professional situations, build expectations of stability and predictability, critical to successful collaboration and partnerships. When you show up the same way all of the time, follow through on your commitments, and maintain a certain caliber of work, you reduce uncertainty - both for your boss or client and for yourself. This predictability leads to trust, a foundation to any relationship. It also means that you increase your skill level and improve your habits, which in turn allows you to trust yourself. This regular delivery of quality work helps shape a perception of dependability and efficiency.

I like to compare the process to a science experiment. You have certain variables that change and others that remain the same. You make incremental adjustments to certain things, measure the outcome, and adapt as necessary. Consistency allows you to make these refined adjustments because you know exactly what to expect from the behaviors, skills, and habits you've developed.

The Paradox of Consistency

I remember during an interview, a number of years ago, that my consistency was seen as a potential drawback. "Heather," they asked, "you're so reliant on process and systems. How are you going to handle this new role, which involves a high level of unpredictability?" My response highlighted the strength of my consistency. I explained that my systems and processes, the fact that I prep for every meeting in the same way, allows me to focus on the client and stay present during the meeting. Because I've already laid the groundwork, I can respond more effectively to what's happening around me. This is the real power of consistency - it allows us to build a solid foundation, freeing us up to handle the unpredictable.

However, like anything not taken in moderation, consistency can become a liability. It's possible to become so consistent that people perceive you as inflexible, overly reliant on routines or slow to change. Complacency and stagnation can arise if consistency doesn't evolve with the fast-paced, ever-evolving nature of business - which demands frequent innovation and adaptation.

Consistency: Monotony or Mastery?

Another potential pitfall of consistency is monotony. Doing something the same way, all of the time, can start to feel monotonous. But much of this is about perception. I've found it helpful to remember that even if I've done something twenty times in a day, or prepared for a meeting in the same way a hundred times, it's the first time for the client. Our repetition becomes their reassurance.

The Risk of Burnout

One downside to consistency that you might not expect is burnout. Especially when you're operating at a high level, the pressure to meet the expectations you've set for yourself can lead to exhaustion. When you're used to showing up in a certain way, you can start to ignore signals that you're burning out.

Striking a Balance

Despite the potential pitfalls, I firmly believe the benefits of consistency far outweigh the negatives. Striking a balance is crucial, and it involves tempering our pursuit of consistency with an awareness of our limits, a willingness to adapt, and a commitment to self-care.

  • Start Small: Develop consistency by beginning with small, manageable tasks. This will reduce overwhelm and build confidence, creating a foundation for larger commitments.

  • Set Attainable Goals: Goals should be ambitious but attainable, striking a balance between challenging oneself and remaining feasible.

  • Balanced Reflection: Evaluate progress routinely, adjusting tactics as necessary. This flexibility prevents consistency from transforming into rigidity.

In the end, my answer remains the same. Consistency, under-appreciated though it may be, is a key driver of success. Its paradox is a reminder that the tools of success are nuanced, demanding both understanding and judicious use to realize their full potential.