One of my favorite “laws” from John Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth is the Law of Consistency. Its premise is pretty simple — discipline leads to our habits and habits determine our growth.
The challenge that each of us faces is with our habits. It’s darn hard to build a habit and equally hard to break a habit. I personally believe it’s the hardest law to implement. At least for me. Now, some of you already know that I’ve been struggling to study (boy, here I go again!) a single chapter from a book for 15 consecutive days. What’s getting in the way? My habits — I’m not used to “studying” books. I read them, take notes, review them (sometimes) and move on. There’s a difference.
The fix? Take it slowly. I don’t have to finish the chapter at one go. I can read some in the morning. Some of it during (or after) lunch. And the rest in evening. If the day’s hectic beyond measure, I simply listen to the audiobook. That’s it! I’m putting in the reps. And that’s what counts when it comes to building a habit.
And yes, those reps need to be consistent. That’s how you grow in life. Just like you would grow your muscles. Not just with some tension or constant tension. But the tension that is applied consistently. That’s what helps you move massive weights and grow stronger.
However, to develop consistency in growth we must change our habits to sync with our grander vision in life. We must become more disciplined. And most importantly, we must begin to ask tough questions that will make you think. Hard. Maxwell calls it the what, how, when and why of personal improvement.
- What do you want to improve?
- How do you improve?
- When do you want to improve?
- Why do you want to improve?
Simple questions. But don’t be fooled. These just may be the hardest question you would ever answer.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you need to pause and congratulate yourself because you’ve just crossed a hurdle that most people won’t ever bother to introspect. And that is what’s going to set you apart.
If knowing what, how, when and why you want to improve is the first step, then doing something every day that pushes you towards your goal is your next step. Make a plan. An elaborate one and make sure you’re inching towards your goal. Every single day. The small steps won’t feel significant at first but a few months down the lane you’ll realize how far you’ve come from where you are today.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Build your habit. Plan for your growth. One day at a time. Overtime.