Why Consistent Action is Vital for Long-Term Success

While being flashy may get you noticed, being consistent is what establishes and maintains your reputation. Whether your focus is a business relationship, a friendship, a romantic relationship, or your work ethic, consistency reigns supreme over a one-hit wonder.

I used to attend a number of different summer camps when I was younger. I attended one of them, a basketball camp held at a local high school, for many years in a row. The instructor was (and I believe still is) the head Varsity boys basketball coach at the school. He was well-known both for his longevity and his success. When he spoke, people listened.

One day, Coach was giving a speech about work ethic. He mentioned that although the camp began each day at 8am, the gym was open long before that for anyone who wished to come in early and practice. He stated that he arrived at the gym by 6:30 each morning and “no one could ever beat him there.” I took that as a personal challenge and went home to tell my parents.

Unfortunately for my mother, I was only about 12 years old at the time and definitely couldn’t drive. This meant that she also had to wake up at 5:30 the next morning just so I could prove a point. We pulled up around 6:20am without another vehicle in the lot. It was raining, and I waited in the car for someone to arrive to open the door. A few minutes after 6:30, Coach pulled up. I hopped out of the car and met him at the door to the gym as he was unlocking it. “Good morning, Coach.”

He asked me what I was doing there so early, and I told him that he said no one would beat him to the gym in the morning, and I wanted to prove that I could. Coach wasn’t much for smiles or praise, but I’m fairly certain he gave me a little of both in that moment. I walked into the gym, shoes squeaking from the rain, and spent the next nearly 90 minutes practicing all of the skills and drills we had been learning.

As the Varsity players began to arrive (they were the ones responsible for running the hour-to-hour activities), many of them came over to me. They asked my name and other questions about me; it was clear showing up early had made quite the impression. Throughout the rest of that day I seemed to be getting a little more attention than usual. I smiled to myself at this victory. I went home and told my parents the great news. Challenge accepted, and challenge completed.

The next day, I showed up at the regular time. After all, I had proven my point and I had expected the effects to last. They didn’t. In fact, no one ever brought it up again. In hindsight, what had felt like a victory and a strong impression was merely an opportunity for those things. Had I continued to show up early and put in extra work, people would have continued to notice.

Consistency has many benefits. For one, someone who is consistent is viewed as trustworthy. People equate being consistent with being genuine and respectful, both of which feed into being trusted. Call when you say you’re going to call, meet your work deadlines, and bring the same positive attitude to your relationships each day, and people notice. Do any of those things once and never again and you run the risk of many negative labels. If you want to be trusted, be consistent.

Being consistent also allows you to dictate the message that others receive about you. Wax and wane too many times and you leave your actions open to interpretation. By showing up early just one time, I was probably viewed as a punk who just felt like proving someone wrong. I have to admit, basically telling Coach that was my reason for showing up probably did not help that perception. Instead, I could have stated that I wanted the extra time to practice and get better. Had I then consistently showed up early throughout the rest of the camp, I would have dictated a much more positive perception. Being consistent provides you with the control.

Contrast that with Coach, who did show up early. Every day. And stayed later than everyone else. Every day. He preached a solid work ethic, he backed up his own words, and he did so consistently. It is no wonder that he has coached at one school for multiple decades and achieved much success during his tenure.

Always remember, actions speak louder than words. Consistency is not just about maintaining the same message over time, but it is about demonstrating congruence between what you say and what you do. Be genuine in your thoughts, statements, and actions, and consistency comes easy. Do something for the wrong reason (or worse, someone else’s reason), and the thread of consistency quickly unravels.

Just about anybody can do just about anything one time, but soon both the action and the person are forgotten. Do something repeatedly and be the one who determines how others remember you.

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