Want a magic bullet to success? Conquer Consistency! In theory, anyone can do it. So, how could you think through the process of making the practice of consistency a part of your internal culture so that you too always have magic bullets for any moving target?
As a grandmaster of consistency, I guide others towards nurturing this within their internal culture to help close the Implementation Gap between their dreams and reality. Whether melting away fat to reveal a 6-pack or a bikini body, mastering another language, securing your financial future, reversing ageing, getting reelected in a democracy or holding onto power in an autocracy – you have to Conquer Consistency.
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1234The Big Picture
1234The Need for a Definition
1234Definitions across Dimensions
How Consistency become Your Magic Bullet?
1234Laws of Nature
1234Physical vs Philosophical
Current Struggles with Consistency
1234Why the Struggle
1234Manifestations of Inconsistency
Why part of Internal Culture?
1234Preparation, Planning & Process
1234In the Longer Run
Why YOU should
Conquering Consistency and…
1234Conception, Pregnancy and Childbirth
1234Education and Employment
1234Personal Wealth Management
Parting Message – Consistency Conquered
Whether you look at a famous Olympic gold medalist from Oslo or an unknown supercentenarian from Okinawa what you will find common between them is the internal culture of Consistency. They have both had to go from a simple starting point to apparently superhuman achievement a thousand miles down the road. Remember the wisdom statement from Confucius that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? What remains unstated is that which must follow from the first single step – the need to repeat it consistently. For a thousand miles that is another 2.045 million steps or so. Fortunately, for success in most things in your life you don’t need to reach Olympian or Okinawan levels of achievement, but for any worthwhile outcome goal Conquering Consistency is mandatory.
The Need for a Definition [top]
Dictionary definitions cover a wide range of possible meanings for the term “consistency”. This simply highlights how pervasive the existence [or lack] of consistency can be in our lives and in society for functioning well [or not]. Merging definitions from dictionaries from Oxford, Cambridge and Merriam-Webster here is a good definition to go with:
not containing any logical contradictions when transitioning across space-time
Let us continue to delve a bit deeper and understand how to implement the concept.
Definitions across Dimensions [top]
Not Constancy – Consistency must never be confused with things being the same or constant. Consistency does not imply that your goals need to remain the same. [top]
Beyond Repetition – Conquering Consistency very often requires repetition of action (e.g., mastering the guitar) but it is beyond just that and often does not require repetition of action (e.g., your belief that a son and daughter should have equal inheritance rights). [top]
Yes Everywhere – Whether for you as an individual on your own, or as part of your family, an organization, or society at large, consistency is important between actions and goals. There is typically a natural change in your goals over time as situations change. Your goals ought to remain consistent with your personal ideology. Your ideology should be consistent with reliable scientific evidence before faith takes over. The actions to take you to your newly adjusted goal must also change to be consistent with that goal but, in addition, what is important is that you take that action consistently over time. Thus, consistency has a time dimension too.
When the goal does not change and we want consistency in quality i.e., the outcome needs to match the target as closely as possible then we have to do our best to have consistency in input processes.
An important binary classification to have for personal growth is between the visible and the invisible. The visible includes your actions that may not be about physical movements visible by others e.g., how you breathe. The invisible includes your thoughts and ideas, your knowledge, your understanding, your worldview. There will also be a need to have consistency between the visible (e.g., your actions) and the invisible (e.g., the laws of Biology).
Consistency between the macro and the micro level is important. From the 30,000 feet level to the 30 nanometers level. From what you want over 3 decades to what you do over the next 3 seconds.
As you can see, consistency works across multiple dimensions and layers and so, as they are all connected, making it part of your internal culture of life is critical. Ideology, process, outcomes, and the passage of time. [top]
A single small step in the correct direction guarantees you mathematically to take you closer to your goal with certainty. Having a process goal of repeating this a very large number of times is what will take you from here, now, to your outcome goal.
Laws of Nature [top]
Nature which is described by the laws of physics, the laws of biology and the laws of chemistry will automatically then produce results that are consistent with your actions and (sequentially) through time.
Network Effects [top]
It is highly likely that the many paths you follow for your many goals are interconnected paths. The more consistent you become along each path, the stronger the network of paths becomes. As a result, the compounding effect is enhanced.
Physical to Philosophical [top]
The above mechanisms hold true for the very tangible and for what is non-physical. Think about reputation creation and destruction. Think about what you eat and your proclaimed belief in animal rights.
Your Current Affairs with Consistency [top]
The good thing is that you already have a fair amount of consistency in your life. The question that arises is, “are you actively Conquering Consistency on a daily basis to have the best life possible?”. In the case of almost everyone, the answer is “no” and the extent to which we are far from ideal varies from person to person.
Typically, the consistency that is programmed into your daily life is a mix of things from a scale of superb to dangerous. You brush and floss your teeth daily (superb) and you also hang out with friends (good) every weekend but, in their company, you smoke, drink alcohol or eat life-shortening food (dangerous).
Religions have cleverly incorporated rituals for consistency for the benefit of the follower (e.g., periodic fasting) and consistency between followers for the survival of the religious movement itself (e.g., rules for rituals).
Corporations you work for as an employee or as a vendor expect consistency between your behaviour and their goals outlined nicely in their staff policy documents and business process manuals. They’re one step ahead in the game. Have you made an effort to have a similar set of rules for yourself that are for your benefit?
Although corporations will badger you constantly to be a customer one more time, one area that they do play to mutual advantage is in regular savings plans, especially those with tax benefits. Hope you take advantage of those.
Internally, ideologically, you may have a lack of clarity or focus. In terms of your current personality, you might have limited patience, a desire for instant gratification, or an “all or nothing” mindset. You may not have supporting habits that help you conquer consistency.
Externally, you may not have supporting triggers or a conducive environment that support your conquering of consistency.
Manifestations of Inconsistency [top]
Whenever you observe a problem of any kind, it is very likely to have inconsistency at its root. In a court of law, inconsistencies between your claim and your evidence to that claim will lead to you losing your case. A lack of consistency between your actions and the instructions, guidance, prescription or recipe will lead to unexpected outcomes which can be problematic. I present a few varied examples.
- You want to be treated like an equal but you don’t treat others the same way.
- You have not treated food like medicine and now medicines have become your food.
- You love animals but you eat animals.
- You will eat a chicken but will not want to eat a dog.
- You worry about global heating but don’t think much about what you eat or how you travel.
- You want joyful relationships but you don’t give up arguing until you prove that you are right.
- You are frustrated because your beliefs unproven by science are not trusted by anyone other than by those from the same cult.
- You were too busy making money and wonder why your adult children don’t make much effort to visit you in your big retirement house.
- You walk a lot to lose weight with little success because your eating habits are not consistent with someone interested to have better health.
- You espouse a system of social hierarchy based on birth but get frustrated because another religious group that focuses on equality of all at birth is experiencing many new eager and willing converts from your faith.
- You changed the recipe but expect the dish to taste like it used to.
- You dye your hair to look younger but people still call you “aunty” because your skin’s biological age is more than your chronological age thanks to a bad lifestyle.
Why part of Internal Culture? [top]
When you make Conquering Consistency a part of your culture – of who you are – a lot of things start falling into place. Your goals will be ambitious and still be in sync with what is realistically possible. A life where you are constantly setting higher and higher targets and achieving those targets is a life of joy.
Your personal belief in applying science, the human language for describing nature in this universe, will become stronger. Perhaps the fraction of your beliefs based on faith rather than fact will become smaller.
Your brain will be highly engaged in time management and optimization, something that is important for Conquering Consistency. As you achieve bigger ROTIs you will increasingly express the universal human trait of polymathy – something that has been suppressed in the developed world for the last 150 years or so.
You will see a more honest separation of choice vs ability and the difference between natural (genetic) vs trained (epigenetic). You will take advantage of epigenetics and won’t fool yourself with excuses that you are destined to turn out a certain way because your parents were this or that.
Conquering Consistency even when about the invisible (e.g., the belief that food should be your medicine to avoid the situation that medicine becomes your food) usually requires action. Here is how to go about it.
Preparation, Planning & Process [top]
Here is a 9 points checklist to make things easy:
- To start off, remind yourself constantly that consistency is key. It is at this first painless step itself that, unfortunately, most fail. Once you are mentally prepared, half the work is done. Use Post-It notes on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator door and workstation to remind yourself about this idea until you breathe and dream it.
- Set a stupidly long timeline deadline – unless it’s about reversing disease.
- In accordance with the long timeline, have a mindset of being long-term greedy. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being short-term greedy. I often come across men who gained immense wealth in objectionable ways. Short-termism permeates their way of thinking and conversations with them turn boring after a few minutes.
- When starting out, do less than you think you can. Once you’re doing it with a good rhythm, don’t overdo it. Remember, avoiding burnout is a necessary condition for conquering consistency. You cannot leverage off your emotional capital if you have no emotional capital left to invest.
- Remind yourself to focus on consistency of process rather than focusing on the final desired outcome. It is the former (process) that you have control over to achieve the latter (outcome).
- Understand what you have control over and what you don’t – that is almost a prerequisite if you are to develop any wisdom in this life. You can only implement consistency over what you can control whether it be direct or indirect control. Seeking consistency in what you cannot control might well be one definition of lunacy!
- Learning about the science underlying what you are doing will help you plan and execute and remain consistent in your actions and between your actions and your belief set.
- At different scales consistency means different things – e.g., want consistently healthy food but you should also seek diversity within each food group and not eat the same rice, beans and carrots every day.
- Data collection and the practice of journaling is something you will hear me recommend frequently. With Conquering Consistency, both these actions are the perfect feedback mechanism to help you conquer more ground.
Environment Setup [top]
Reminders and alarms – you will always need these to help manage your day; initially use them as reminders for a new practice; later use them just to ensure you did get the jobs done
Combine rituals – e.g., dimming your lights in the evening combined with cleaning your teeth will ensure you don’t snack once your early dinner is done
Initial environmental support by design –
e.g., join the simple gym close to home or work, not the fancy one that is out of your way
e.g., if you are looking to quit smoking, avoid the triggers (walk inside the office, don’t go down with the poison consuming colleagues) – don’t go to parties where people smoke
You must target environment independence after this initial phase of designed environment support e.g., to be able to walk with a friend but not light up yourself when she decides to smoke.
Surround yourself with other people who are on a similar path to conquering consistency. Minimize your exposure to people who aren’t on a similar path.
Self-reliance to avoid out-of-control breaks – don’t make excuses.
– “my running buddy’s mother died and she stopped running, so I stopped my runs too”
– “my cook went to his village for 2 months so I ate a lot of junk”
Mottos are a great way to be on a safe island in a sea of sharks waiting to kill your consistency. When you have these loaded up and played in your brain through the day, you can Conquer Consistency with no worry about sharks or jerks!
In the Longer Run [top]
Understand the half-life of the combination of processes that are taking you to your goal and don’t try to run a half marathon daily – you won’t be able to do it for too many days. Even the world’s best musician cannot master an unknown instrument in a day.
Conquering Consistency is a lifelong process – it doesn’t end because you have achieved XYZ. That is no reason to fret. Remember, roads were built for journeys, not destinations (Confucius).
Avoid perfection obsession. Deliberate practice is good, but on some days, just handing in the homework is precisely what you need. If on the journey to perfection you stop because of an unhealthy obsession with perfection, your probability of getting closer to perfection drops to zero with certainty! Stay on the journey by cultivating the practice of handing in homework – on some days it might not be quite the quality you want, but at least you’ve not completely halted the journey.
To not be aware of and alert to the existence of potential enemies will create failure in any endeavour. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. In the end, how you manage the Implementation Gap to travel the path from where you are towards your target with all the constraints and obstacles is what will ensure success.
The External is your biggest potential enemy to Internal growth. What passes through the Interface is what you have control over. Whether it is well-meaning people, subtle marketing messages, undesirable weather, or cunning corporate rules – all in the External – you run the risk of never Conquering Consistency if you are not wise about how they interact with your Internal. So ferociously guard your Interface.
Internally, your biggest risks are your monkey brain and the Unholy Trinity. A life journey with a consistent focus on developing greater mindfulness will help you overcome both these survival instincts in a modern world without constant danger of the prehistoric kind. [Read more about The Unholy Trinity]
An approximate opposite of your monkey brain is the trait of stubbornness. This is a trait often found in very intelligent young children. As an adult, if you are consistently stubborn in your actions that are not in sync with science, then you are guaranteed to not have success – that is not the kind of consistency you want to retain. You still have work to do to claim that you have Conquered Consistency. Work on reducing your unjustified stubbornness.
Bottlenecks – you need just one Weakness Bottleneck to keep you from Conquering Consistency. Introspection will allow you to identify yours – or ask a close friend to be honest and tell you what they see. We are usually blind to our own faults.
Force Majeure – earthquakes are acts of nature but storms are partly man-made now. Wars and pandemic lockdowns are man-made. Whatever be their root cause, you must adapt to continue to Conquer Consistency.
Personal illness of the kind that is temporary will pass soon – it is OK to adapt to the temporary situation for those few days and do less or do it less intensely.
On the other hand, if your state of ill-health is chronic (e.g., hypertension, diabetes) or something that flares up every once in a while, (e.g., a hyperactive immune system), then you want to be using your path of Conquering Consistency to also banish those diseases from your internal kingdom. If you want to learn how to – just get in touch!
Self-compassion is a necessary trait for Conquering Consistency and, fortunately, you can train yourself to be more so. Of course, any training requires you to be consistent with repetition. Chicken-and-egg situation? Perhaps not, if you keep a journal.
Why YOU Should [top]
Given that it is up to you to make the size of the consistently repetitive action as small as you wish – the process of Conquering Consistency is very easy for you to do. The power of compounding those small deltas means that even with tiny actions – with the passage of time the outcomes will be gigantic.
Your ability to spot inconsistencies will become very sharp when Conquering Consistency becomes part of your Internal Culture. It will not be easy for anyone or any organization to trick you.
Consistency reduces decision fatigue – you have a better rhythm throughout your day, thus allowing your mind to expand to explore new horizons. Whatever be your natural time to sleep, Conquering Consistency will help you synch your day’s activities with your circadian rhythm.
As the dispersion of performance becomes smaller and smaller you will face less disappointment, and fewer complaints from the stakeholders in your life – be they family, friends or business customers.
You will gradually develop what others perceive to be greater self-discipline and self-control. It will come easily to you, even if it does not to those who do not walk the path to Conquering Consistency.
Your trust in yourself will increase – which is needed if others are going to trust you. You will develop automatic mechanisms for self-accountability.
All of this will help you stand out and be noticed in any group of humans.
Reputation risk reduction – uncertainty when dealing with others is often worse than the certainty of a person not delivering. We would rather go with a certain “he will not deliver” than a probable “he may or may not deliver” when planning our own actions. Be someone with a reputation for always delivering. This type of risk reduction will, in turn, increase your return too!
Whatever be the skill you are looking to develop, consistent deliberate practice will be key. Whether it is better anger management, the ability to fast for many days, play the saxophone, or speak Mandarin – you can do it. And, you can do them all!
You can also develop high levels of performance in competing categories. You don’t have to choose between powerlifting (looks don’t matter) and bodybuilding (strength doesn’t matter) – you can do both!
You will automatically become a Master of Balance and not have a mindset of being only ultra one thing (the worst thing might be to target only being ultra-rich!). Being a Master of Balance, you will be consistently joyful and satisfied. You will be consistently interesting to others rather than boring, narrow and predictable.
It is worthwhile considering the following terms that are often connected with consistency to understand the distinctions, overlaps and cause or effect.
Discipline – is often seen as something painful. Conquering Consistency often requires repetition or mastery over your lizard brain or protecting yourself against the Unholy Trinity. However, you have control over the processes for Conquering Consistency so for you it is not hard. People will see you as being disciplined but that will just be an outcome. [top]
Perseverance – lies in the time dimension and plays an important part in ensuring consistency. Whatever be the type of obstacle or difficulty, for you not to break the general trend over time is what will help you Conquer Consistency. Remember, even something as “soft” as water carves away at hard rocks. [top]
Repetition – of actions is often an important part of Conquering Consistency. However, the overlap is not at all perfect, nor bidirectional. There are many things that require consistency without the involvement of repetition. [top]
Reliability – of a product or a person is not the same as consistency. Instead, like being perceived to be disciplined, it is often an outcome of Conquering Consistency. [top]
Boredom – is a term used by those who have no idea about how to Conquer Consistency. [top]
Conquering Consistency and… [top]
…its relevance to a million possible topics can be considered pairwise. Here are just a few from birth to death.
Conception, Pregnancy and Childbirth – will all happen beautifully smoothly with no hiccups if you live your life consistent with the grand design of nature. If your lifestyle sucks, male or female, you reduce the likelihood of conception in any given month. Pregnancy will also be smooth if you treat it consistent with it being a very normal state and not some “medical condition”. [top]
Parenting – becomes easy if you live your life consistent with a few golden guidelines. Children do not do what you tell them to do, they do what they see you do. Parents will often be consistent with enslavement rules to corporations but incorporate very little consistency within the culture at home for raising their children. If you are consistent in your good parenting approach and don’t meander based on your own inability to be steadfast, and if all parenting figures of the child are consistent with each other when raising the child, parenting will be super easy. The teenage years are meant to be difficult, but at least you won’t raise a child whose teenage years are disastrous. [top]
Education and Employment – are meant to empower the young and the old with the necessary tangible and intangible resources to have a joyful life. Both spheres have rules imposed by schools, colleges and corporations that one needs to behave consistently with. What is more important is that your choice of subjects to study or your approach to employment are consistent with the science of happiness. Think ikigai! At the far end, remind yourself daily to be consistent with the truism that no one on their deathbed ever wishes they had spent an extra hour in the office. [top]
Personal Wealth Management – has to be consistent with economic theories, empirical evidence supporting those theories and the very real system of tax rules relevant to your jurisdiction. Being unaware of cognitive biases that even professional investors are laden with will probably lead to a portfolio growth rate that is suboptimal vis-à-vis (theoretically appropriate) rational investing. Most importantly, your approach to investing has to be consistent with what will truly give you happiness in life – don’t chase an absolute rate of return.
With wealth generated from our employment or business, we’re inconsistent between the cost we bear to our internal wealth to generate external wealth. How? By giving up too much on well-being to generate external wealth well beyond our true requirements. Understand this inconsistency and Conquer Consistency. [top]
Healthspan Extension– will only happen with smart lifestyle choices. If you are to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually happy for many decades, the choices you make and the implementation of those choices have to be consistent with the laws of nature, described by the human languages we call the sciences. [top]
Parting Message – Consistency Conquered [top]
Writing my thoughts around being a Consistency Conqueror is in itself consistent with many things. My passion for teaching, my belief that writing is thinking, my desire to see a better society, my belief that there is always room for improvement, and that to improve any skill we need deliberate practice.
If everything you do is consistent with your core beliefs and desires, then a long and healthy life of joy is pretty much guaranteed to be yours. If you want to be guided in detail, you know how to reach me, and if you found this useful, please do share it with others.
Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.