Consistency: conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness
Consistency is important to building relationships and trust. If you exhibit erratic behavior, it might result in someone lacking a clear expectation of how you will react or act, therefore believing you are potentially unreliable. I strive for consistency in all that I do. It’s different than being repetitive or a perfectionist (although I am told I am the emblematic perfectionist on steroids! I, however, disagree: I don’t take steroids and can’t help if I have a super power).
Consistency is demonstrating that you have a methodology in how you go about your activities and thoughts, thus projecting a model behavior that earns someone’s trust and confidence. It’s not having coffee every morning at precisely 7:03 am. It’s far from wearing a matching tie and shirt to work each day. It’s not the opposite of spontaneity either. The end result is that others believe you will generally respond in a certain manner, thus allowing some level of prediction in how the events will unfold. It’s not smiling one morning when it rains, and yelling the next when it rains again.
I’d say that I’m about 90% consistent in most areas of my life.
- I look down at a set of steps before I embark on the path; it’s a learned behavior that helps ensure I don’t trip over something (or my own feet); that said, I’m generally very adept at maintaining balance and judging my walking abilities. Except that time I walked into an open window and nearly cut my eye brow off. (Grr… all your fault, Mom! NOT MINE.)
- I will immediately see a glass as half empty rather than half full. Eventually, I come around, but pessimism edges out optimism 51 to 49!
- I wash my hair and face before I wash my body. Top to bottom – gravity rules!
- I won’t reveal my opinion first before anyone else. Not because I lack confidence. But because hearing others allows me to consider other options, thus rounding out what I really think of a situation.
When does the 10% kick in?
- I’m not going to just run to the edge of a cliff and dive into the water without taking in the surroundings. But I will jump off it just for the heck of it sometimes, even though I’m not a good swimmer and can’t be sure there aren’t rocks just below its surface.
- Boredom sets in and the conscious thought is to try it alternative way #2 and not primary way #1. Yikes, I sound like a Borg. (Star Trek species… but they probably wouldn’t admit that, so epic fail here.)
- Recognition that the consistent choice hasn’t reared the intended goal and I go with the opposite to see if I reach an alternative solution.
Nonetheless, I view consistency as a characteristic I use to judge others. I tend not to be comfortable around people who are random or act unusual. Consistency is that feeling of being curled up in a blanket by a warm fire with a cup of cocoa sitting near your grandmother who is baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch. It’s a baseline I can use as a starting place from which to determine the best next step or path.
Consider Robert Frost’s 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” if you don’t mind going on this little journey with me. The general interpretation is the quintessential “what if” scenario where people try to figure out if they made the right choice versus just doing or accepting either option. If you are consistent, you may consistently spend minutes, hours, days thinking about which option to take. If you are consistent, you may consistently choose the first option presented to you (e.g. the closest, the shortest, the most scenic – whatever your normal preference is…). BUT…
What if your consistency is based on your gut instinct? I’ve found that in the 10% of times when I am supposedly inconsistent, I’m acting on some internal adrenaline change. A built-up knowledge base, hidden beneath the surface, which acts on my behalf when I’m unfocused or disinterested. Do I find those unusual and abnormal decisions character-weakening or strengthening?
Strengthening… because if I live 90% of life being consistent, that hidden 10% reacting to something new and different is still based on 90% consistency, thereby offering a higher chance of success. It would take some climactic event to truly alter the intrinsic values and thought-patterns I’ve assembled over the years.
That said… the challenge I see here is how to exponentially expose the 10% to newer and alternative options which I can analyze and consume, leading to even stronger depths. I want to and should keep the 10%, but their contents should not be static; they should grow with each new, learned set of behaviors.
Way too psychological. Simply said: Be sure the consistency is challenged from time to time; don’t let spontaneity become the only way you’ll take a risk. Even an educated one.