Today is April 5 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you diligent in your consistency?” Ralph Waldo Emerson's wrote "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall." When it comes to navigating the chaos, however, consistency plays a vital role and should be considered a valuable tool.
Those who navigate the chaos often work on developing a high level of consistency in order to achieve a specific goal. Perfecting a specific art form, accomplishing a significant goal, or completing an extreme sport such as mountain climbing are three common areas where consistency remains critical to success. The journey to the South Pole and the Seinfeld Strategy are two such examples that demonstrate the value of consistency when working towards a goal.
In January 1912, both Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole within a month of each other leading separate teams. Consistency played an important part in this historic event. But while Scott and his four companions died on the return journey Amundsen's party returned without loss of life. Each team used a different approach for their journey.
Scott’s team would walk as far as possible on the good weather days and rest up on the bad days. Conversely, Amundsen’s team adhered to a strict regimen of consistent progress by walking 20 miles every day no matter what the weather. Even on those days when his team could have walked further, Amundsen’s team stopped at 20 miles to conserve their energy for the next day’s 20 miles.
In his best-selling book, From Good to Great, Jim Collins highlights this trek of roughly 1,400 miles as a case study in diligent consistency. The team that took consistent action made it back safely without loss of life. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld also understands the value of consistency.
Seinfeld is one of the most influential comedians in recent memory and has a net worth of over $800 million. While his earning and awards are impressive, what is even more so is his approach to writing comedy known as the Seinfeld Strategy.
Fellow comedian Brad Isaac was a young comedian who caught Seinfeld backstage one night after a show. Isaac asked him if he had any tips on how to improve his comedy writing. In an interview on Lifehacker, Isaac shared his story and Seinfeld’s response:
He (Seinfeld) said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.
“After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
What is interesting about the Seinfeld Strategy is didn't say a single thing about results. The Seinfeld Strategy has no time limit as there is no predetermined amount of time to work towards your goal. The important thing is daily consistency. Such an approach changes habits, forces you to think differently, and allows you a daily opportunity to increase your self-awareness.
It never mattered if Seinfeld was motivated. It never mattered if the joke was funny. And it never mattered if he only wrote one joke. What mattered most for Seinfeld was the daily consistency and “not breaking the chain.”
As African-American science fiction author Octavia Butler noted "first forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you are inspired or not."
How often are you diligent in your consistency?