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Creating Successful Leaders

Whether it’s achieving a personal goal, boosting your business or developing relationships, perhaps the most important ingredient to success in any of these endeavors is consistency.

That’s all well and good, but what does this look like? How do we attain it? In other words, how does a person remain consistent about being consistent?

Widening the parameters

“One of the problems with temptations,” writes professor of psychology Timothy A. Pychyl, “is that they can seem relatively harmless. It seems so reasonable and seductive to conclude that not running ‘just today’ won’t harm our long-term health goals, and that eating that jelly donut won’t ruin our weight-loss goal.”

It’s true, one jelly donut won’t make you fat. But that isn’t the point, is it? A person becomes unhealthy by repeating unhealthy behavior over time. It’s not the one jelly donut, it’s the very many “just one” jelly donuts. By keeping the parameters strictly in the present, we actually make the problem worse.

A solution is to view your actions on a wider time-scale, as links in a chain which create an overall pattern of behavior. With a broader picture of your actions in mind, it becomes clear that “just this one” is really one of a great many. Change the action at the immediate level on a daily basis, and soon you’ll change the pattern entirely.

Consistency reinforces itself

It’s sobering knowing that one bad action leads to a pattern, but the good news is that this works in the reverse too. Since behaviors come in bundles, we can modify a single action every day knowing that this will soon develop into a bigger life pattern. In other words, don’t worry about taking on a huge self-improvement project. Focus on daily actions and feel good about those.

Speaking of which, I’m sure you’ve found that feeling good about your actions is addictive. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t need to feel guilty about feeling good about yourself! Use it to your advantage.

Consistency reveals character

We’re familiar with the phrase, “actions speak louder than words.” I’m guessing you’ve also experienced that terrible disconnect between your own actions and words. This is the result of a lack of consistency. In an ideal world, what you believe and what you do should line up perfectly. We don’t live in an ideal world, so you can forget about any idea of perfection. But what you can do is work toward consistency between your inner and outer selves. Act on your principles–little things, everyday. Clean up after the messes you’ll inevitably make, apologize for your inconsistencies, but keep forming new links in positive behavior chain.

One link, everyday!

Psychology Today. “More Effective Goal Intentions: Think Width and Consistency.” Accessed May 28, 2013.


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