The Value of Consistency
By Will Lowrey
Consistency: Conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness (definition from Google Dictionary).
There are so many parts of life that benefit from consistency. I’m a father of four. All boys. If I am not consistent with them, things can get fairly crazy. With my wife, if I don’t invest in our relationship on a consistent basis, we just don’t do as well as a couple. At work, if we all do things differently, it makes working together really difficult.
Consistency With Children
When trying to raise children, my wife and I have a particular view about how to do this. We see these years when they are at home with us as an opportunity to prepare them to be successful in the world. That means we are constantly looking at how they’re behaving, what we are encouraging in their behavior, and how they are meeting the challenges ahead of them day in and day out. Sometimes these are big things. Sometimes they’re small. The big things that we worry about are the character elements.
•Treating others well
•Owning your mistakes
•Taking responsibility for decisions and actions
Sure, there are plenty of others. But those are really big for us.
As parents, we tried very hard to be consistent when it comes to items such as character. We don’t want to let things slide. We come down pretty hard on our kids if they do something out of character. We spend a lot of time thinking about the habits and behaviors that we’re seeing and how it’s creating the character of these young men. For all of this, consistency is key. My wife and I try very hard to be on the same page, to support each other in this, and to provide a united front to our children. It takes work. The work is worthwhile. We see that every day in young men that we are raising. We feel blessed that others have called our children:
They make their mistakes, just like all other kids will do. But they are truly good kids and I believe the effort my wife and I have put into raising them is a big part of that.
Consistency in Relationships
I have to be honest here. This is where I struggle the most. It has nothing to do with the consistently growing love I have for my wife. It has to do with the struggle I have with being present in the moment. Honestly, if I was present in the moment and aware of the consequences of my decisions (or the lack of decisions), then I could do this much better. There are some things I do consistently. I tell my wife every day that I love her. I message her when I get to work so that she doesn’t worry that something happened in traffic. I try and message her on my way home so she knows when to expect me. I cook dinner. I help pick up the kids and get them to some of their events as my schedule allows. I share with her about my day. I guess I am consistent about it being me-centric.
But there’s plenty of areas I can improve upon. I can do a better job of asking more details about her day. I can be more present when she tells me about a project she’s working on or a news report that she listened to or a book that she’s reading. I could be more in tune when she’s had a stressful day and the kids are going bonkers. She deserves that.
Consistency At Work
This is an interesting one. If we keep doing the same thing at work we will keep getting the same results. But what if we don’t like the results? What if we want things to be better?
Can we be consistent and change things?
I think we can. I think we can look at the foundation of what we’re trying to do and the spirit of what we’re trying to do and be consistent with those things. And when we’re getting results that are less ideal, we need to step back and assess what’s missing. We have to ask different questions if we want different results.
But asking different questions doesn’t make us inconsistent. We can consistently challenge the status quo. We can consistently challenge the routines and the meetings and the sacred cows that rise up in our shared experience. We can challenge the answers of those that say my least favorite phrase ever…“Well, we always did it that way.” What we need to do is create processes and frameworks that are consistent in producing meaningful results.
Becoming More Consistent
I believe the key to being more consistent in life is just having fewer things you are trying to be consistent about. For my kids we can’t have a thousand rules. It’s hard for them to remember more than just a few. It’s hard for me to remember them. And it’s really hard for me to remember the consequences that should be in place for breaking any of the rules.
Rule #1: Have only a few things that are really important that you choose to be consistent about.
When it comes to relationship consistency, it’s okay to use triggers and tools to help you be consistent. You have to remember what the end goal is. I use calendar reminders. My mom used Post-It notse on a mirror. Find your tool. Use it. Make it automatic. Whatever it takes, we should do it. These people in our lives deserve that from us. We can give them our best and we should.
Rule #2: Get help from anywhere and everywhere to keep you consistent.
When it comes to work, it’s important to find the right thing to be consistent about. It’s kind of funny, but this one feels very similar to what it’s like raising kids. Maybe there’s a lot of correlations there. But we get to work, we all have to figure out how to get along, play well, and get some results.
Rule #3: Evaluate the things you believe are really important on a regular basis.
Where are you with consistency in your life? How are you working on it? Do you even value it?