When consistency gets in the way

I spent much of December cleaning up my email. My inbox wasn’t necessarily crowded with tons and tons of emails, but much like my actual U.S. Postal Service deliverings, my electronic mailbox was getting cluttered with junk. So I started to unsubscribe, mostly from companies which I like, still purchase stuff from, but no longer need daily reminders of what might be on sale.

There were email lists I stayed on and one of them was from a company called “Box of Crayons.” I’ve read the book by Michael Bungay Stanier called “Do More Great Work” which helps cut through the busywork so you can start doing the work that really matters to you. Their website is full of great information and several free products, including a “Great Work Provocation” which comes to my email every weekday. Some are more valuable to me than others. But this morning I opened the email to find this question:

Where does your commitment to consistency get in the way of your commitment to the truth?

Wait a minute. Wait just a minute. It never occurred to me that consistency might be getting in the way of something. Isn’t consistency something to strive for? Isn’t that what we’re looking to create in our lives? Aren’t we looking to solidify those good habits which keep us moving and improving? And don’t we do that by consistency?

This is the beauty (and the frustration) of a provocation — it makes you examine what you’ve always accepted as truth. I’ve always believed there is power in showing up. There is power in consistently showing up. But implied in showing up, for me at least, is the notion that you show up as your best self. You can show up and just be there. Or you can show up and engage. By showing up as your best self and engaging in the process, you become an active participant in your own life. You start to create your own reality. Sometimes that participation is fun and easy and energetic and leads to amazing things. Sometimes you fall flat on your face. The outcome is less important than you showing up in your own life. And committing to consistency can stifle our creativity if we become to rigid in our expectations of what “doing the work” looks like, whether that work is training for a 5K, living a healthy, active lifestyle, writing your book or accomplishing any myriad of goals and dreams and tasks.

Consistency can take on that same aura of the word “potential.” It becomes imbued with aspirations unmet. If only I could be more consistent …

Maybe tying ourselves to consistency keeps us stuck in the what ifs and if onlys. What would happen if instead of committing to consistency I committed to being true to myself? I bet I’d naturally show up and do the work, without having to wail and gnash my teeth. I bet I’d show up consistently as my best self. And who knows what kind of truth that might reveal and what kind of opportunities that might open for me.

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One Comment on “When consistency gets in the way

  1. I call this “doing things because you’ve always done them.” Or to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

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