Habits and the importance of being consistent.
The pursuit of perfection gets in the way of the work that we need to do.
This article is number 103 from my Ideas, Insights and Observations blog, where I write about leadership, coaching and productivity. And I can confidently say that every single article has been imperfect in some way. There is no doubt about it. The formatting, the use of the Oxford comma, the links, sometimes the fact-checking, not once, not a single article has been perfect. Even my favourite ones:
What does the pursuit of perfectionism even mean? Are we doing it to serve the members of our teams or our clients? Unlikely. Perfectionism can be a place to hide. Perfectionism can be an excuse, an excuse we use as the reason not to share our opinions, or views on a topic that is important to us.
Being consistent is better than striving for impossible perfection.
Bringing your work to the audience that matters to you is what matters most. If it isn't said out loud or written and published, it doesn't count - and it certainly is of no import if you were right and they were wrong.
Week after week, month after month, I do my work. In this case, it is writing articles.
It is an opportunity to engage with new people, to discover what resonates, to develop robust habits, and systems that enable me to get my work out there consistently. I do it for the people that I seek to serve, whether they are coaching clients, or people interested in my ideas, insights and observations about leadership, coaching and productivity.
I am an admirer of Seth Godin, and try to follow his example when it comes to being consistent. So when Seth asks who are your audience, it helps me keep you at the front of mind.
You are a group of people who happen to look to me, for ideas and to be surprised. You are all thirsty for knowledge, and curious to figure stuff out. You are often restless to make a difference. Those that regularly read my work would like to lead more than they do. And would like to be the best leaders they can be, so they make a positive, lasting difference to their teams and workplaces.
Consistency is a crucial habit for business success.
There are many benefits to being consistent, and we can use this vital habit to our advantage throughout our careers. When we're consistent, it helps improve the focus and clarity of our communication. We come across as more committed and acting with integrity by keeping our word to carry out what we've agreed to do. Consistency, therefore, creates accountability.
"Simplicity is the end result of long, hard work. Not the starting point."
- Frederick Maitland
Our level of consistency reflects our values and the standards that we expect of ourselves and others. A strong set of organisational values will provide employees with direction and motivation by telling the story and the mission of the company. But strong values and not violating them requires discipline, persistence and consistency. Enron's values are possibly the most highlighted for their glaring inconsistency with their actions. Their values were: Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence. Yet Enron is now synonymous with accounting and corporate fraud after costing thousands of employees their jobs and losing shareholders tens of billions of dollars when it declared bankruptcy in 2001. Its accounting shenanigans were the epitome of greed and hubris, not integrity!
Being consistent can be a differentiator for client service. It is increasingly difficult to achieve competitive advantage through technology, or product quality alone, as these are often essential to continue to be in the game. Whatever the sector, competitive advantage will be helped by providing a differentiated client experience that stands out and can be trusted for its consistency - consistency in being available, responsive and adaptable. Expectations continue to grow, change will continue to accelerate, and the inconsistent teams and organisations will fall by the wayside.
As Jim Collins said in the book Good to Great, "In creating a good-to-great transformation, there is no single defining action, no grand project, no single killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, it is consistency and persistence to keep pushing forward."
The author describes a flywheel. "You keep pushing and get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You don't stop. You keep pushing. The flywheel speeds up and builds momentum. After thousands of turns, you reach an inflection point. The flywheel (your business) flies forward with almost unstoppable momentum."
"Once you fully grasp how to create flywheel momentum in your particular circumstance and apply that understanding with creativity and discipline, you get the power of strategic compounding. Each turn builds upon previous work as you make a series of good decisions, supremely well-executed, that compound one upon another." This is the power of consistency.
It is a privilege to work with you. This is not about short-cuts or hacks. This is about creating positive, enduring change. It works because we consistently show up, and do what we say we are going to do.
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