Have you ever found yourself saying “Wow, he/she is so lucky.” Most of the time, luck had little to do with it. Think of a personal goal that you have. I’m not going anywhere – I’ll wait. Maybe you want to lose ten pounds, start a business, get a degree, buy a home, get a raise or a promotion, improve life for homeless families, create opportunities for the disadvantaged or be recognized in your field as an expert innovator. Do you think luck is going to play a major role in achieving that goal? So if it’s not luck, what is going to move us to our destination? We are going to see why consistency is king!
One year seems like a long time. Think about this: 365 days is only 8,760 hours. Now, reframe that. Think how quickly you can spend $8,760 dollars. Unfortunately, we don’t think of spending time this way. If you pay rent of $1,400 per month, you are going to spend all of that in six months and in 12 months if your rent is only $700 per month.
An average person spends seven hours sleeping, so 2,920 of those hours just disappeared leaving you with 5,840. If you are the average American spending five hours per day watching TV (that’s according to Nielsen back in 2014), you just spent another 1,460 hours. Now your balance is 4,380 and you haven’t even gone to work! If you work just 40 hours per week, you will consume another 2,000 hours leaving you with 2,380 left. And you haven’t even taken into account time spent figuring out what to wear, getting ready for work, commuting, cooking, eating, grocery shopping, paying the bills, and the list goes on.
The point isn’t to depress you. Life is short and you know that. You may not have accomplished everything you wanted to in life, but it’s not for lack of time. The key is taking your time and prioritizing it for things that matter to you. This is one of the big lessons I’ve learned over the last year with the podcast.
Prioritize How You Spend Your Time
I’m committed to releasing the episodes of the Leader to Leader podcast on Monday mornings, 12:15 AM to be exact, and I haven’t missed having the episode ready to go for the last year. However, there have been times, even recently, when I got done editing and posting the episode right at the deadline. I HATE THAT! And you know what? Every time it has been the result of not prioritizing how I was spending my time.
If you are going to be consistent, you have to start with making your thing, whatever that is, a priority.
Malcolm Gladwell said in his 2008 book Outliers, that it’s “an extraordinarily consistent answer in an incredible number of fields … you need to have practiced, to have apprenticed, for 10,000 hours before you get good.” He later clarified in a Reddit “And practice isn’t a sufficient condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I’ll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest.”
Improvement Requires Dedicated, Consistent Effort
It really doesn’t matter whether it takes 10k hours or 2k hours to get good at something or even whether you will ever be as good as somebody else is at your thing. No matter how long it takes, one thing you can be certain of: it takes dedicated, consistent effort to improve. But here’s the deal: you can be consistent at doing the wrong things and in five years, your life isn’t going to look any better for you than it does today.
How You Practice Matters
Cal Newport says in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, that what makes ridiculously successful people so successful is they’re experts at practicing— they can push themselves to the exact limit of their skillset and thus expand their abilities day after day. If you’re not expanding yourself in such a fashion — called deliberate practice in the org psych lit — you’ll never be ridiculously successful.
Dan Coyle says to reach deep practice, you have to reduce steps to their most simple parts (i.e. tennis, serving, practicing the toss in the air), repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition and then FEEL IT.
Leo Babauta from zenhabits.com says that you will never be successful if you don’t stop trying so many things at once. Pick the one big thing!
Think about Chloe Kim (remember her? she’s the 17-year old Women’s Halfpipe Gold medal winner in Pyeongchang). do you think she laid around dreaming about how awesome it would be to snowboard in the Olympics?
Dreaming Isn’t Enough
Of course, she did but having a dream isn’t enough, right?! You have to put some action behind it. Did you know when she was eight years old, she was in a lift line where she asked Kelly Clark if she could ride the lift chair with her? Remember Kelly Clark? She started snowboarding when she was seven years old and won her gold medal in the women’s halfpipe at the 2002 Olympics here in Salt Lake City. I don’t know if Chloe had any idea who Kelly was when she got in that lift line that day, and here’s the thing: you don’t either. You have no idea who you will encounter on your journey.
Chloe was so lucky to meet Kelly that day in the lift line…oh really? It was lucky that Chloe was out working her butt off on her dream? Probably like she had been for countless days before? Lucky that she was applying herself to improving her craft? If you want to believe in luck, then define it this way: luck is when opportunity meets preparedness….but don’t stop there. Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness and sacrifice. You have to give something up to get what you want. Chloe told reporters: “I missed out on a few proms, homecomings, might miss my graduation…but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s worth it.”
There Is Pain In Practice
There is no doubt that Chloe dedicated herself to hours and hours of practice. She likely pushed herself to limits that she didn’t believe she could surpass. Dreaming about it isn’t enough: she had to put action to it. And that action paid off! Do you think there were any failures along the way? Do you think there may have been some pain in the routine? This is part of being a champion. There is pain in practice. No matter how badly I’ve done it today, I’m coming back and it’s going to be better next time. Try, fail, bounce back, improve. Rinse and repeat as they say.
So once Kelly saw and understood how good Chloe was, Clark made a phone call to Burton and said: “You need to see this girl.” No need to wonder if that would have happened if Chloe hadn’t dedicated herself to consistent effort. Chloe made her own luck. This is another interesting progression in the journey: Kelly transitioned from mentee to mentor and I suspect that will happen to Chloe one day.
Having a mentor isn’t only good for Olympic athletes like Chloe Kim. You need one too.
In my journey, that mentor relationship has been really important. There have been several people on this journey over the last year who have kept me consistent. I can’t name them all so I’ll only mention Mike Kim and his Pivot course followed by his masterminds. Mike and all of the people in these masterminds connected and inspired me. They pushed me and kept me accountable. If I said I was going to do something, one of them was there to ask me if I had done it the following week. Rick Marion and Val Brown are two others who have played a major role in masterminds.
There is no substitute for accountability when you are establishing consistency. My wife, Ginger, plays that role frequently. She could tell you about all of the things that we could be doing, but she won’t let me lose focus on what I’m working to achieve. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by amazing family and friends.
You need a mentor and a group to keep you accountable and force you to be consistent.
Consistency Builds Trust
When you are consistent, you build trust. Think about how important this is. It doesn’t matter if it’s with your spouse, your children, your employer, your customers, or your clients. When you are consistent, they know what they are going to get from you. If I ask you right now to think of a brand you trust, my suspicion is that it’s not a new brand. I’m not saying that it can’t happen, but a consistent track record of outperformance of the competitors is usually required to attract us to a top perfomer.
Bruce Springsteen once said “Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” No shortcuts here. It’s going to take massive, regular effort over a long period of time to fulfill your vision. And that my friends motivates me to bring you a better episode each time you listen in. If there’s no value here, I should stop producing and you should stop listening…we all should save a bunch of time!
Thanks for hanging with me for the last year – you all rock…and I hope to be as great as you are one day!
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