Harvey Mackay

The Importance of Consistency

You might have heard the saying: If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent, you will keep it.

This statement describes professional golfer Jordan Spieth to a tee. Spieth was the defending champion of the Masters golf tournament. He led this year's tournament for the first three rounds and had a five-stroke lead going into the final nine holes. Then things began to fall apart. He proceeded to bogey two straight holes and then had a disastrous quadruple bogey on the 12th hole from which he never recovered, losing the tournament to Danny Willett.

Spieth was anything but consistent. Willett was less volatile with his scores. He made 15 birdies and eight bogeys during the tournament. But more important, five of his birdies came during the final round, with no bogeys. In short, Willett was more consistent, which is why he won the tournament.

Everyone wants consistency, whether it regards running a business, investing, supervising employees, dieting, exercising or parenting. Consistency develops routines and builds momentum. It forms habits that become almost second nature.

For example, think about one of your goals. It requires consistent effort to push toward that goal. If you are not consistently focused on achieving it, you will likely fall back into old habits or lose interest. Being consistent is the difference between failure and success. The late Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and author, said: "Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals."

Leadership guru John Maxwell said: "Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time."

Consistency is especially important in business. Restaurants, for example, must be consistent, because customers come in expecting the same good food all the time. If they slip up even one day, they lose customers. Consistency establishes reputations.

In any business, customers expect the same standards. The last thing people want is to be surprised -- they want predictability. Let's face it -- we live in an unpredictable world. When people get what they want, they are happy and will return.

Managers and leaders must be consistent in their behavior and attitude. This sets a good example for employees and eases concerns. If bosses are inconsistent, it can waste valuable time for both employees and customers. That's why trust is built upon the foundation of consistency.

Even the most committed employees become bored doing routine work. It's hard for a leader to inspire people to do these tasks well; it's even harder to create a sense that this drudgery is important to the organization's larger goals. This is true even in exciting vocations like firefighting. Battalion Chief John Salka of the New York City Fire Department suggests some interesting solutions in his book "First In, Last Out."

One of the dull parts of a firefighter's life is inspecting buildings for fire code violations. Most firefighters join the department for the high-risk activity of fighting fires; however, inspections and paperwork seem miles from where their enthusiasm lies.

Salka accompanies his crews on their inspections to encourage them to take this low-risk activity very seriously. Throughout the inspection, Salka pulls his crew members aside and asks them how they would approach the building if it were on fire right then.

Soon, the firefighters are taking the inspection as seriously as if it were a real fire. After all, the problems they miss in an inspection may come back to "burn" them if a fire starts. The people you lead do better in real-life situations when you show them the significance of even dull tasks.

Mackay's Moral: Don't be resistant to being consistent.

More like Harvey Mackay