What does it take to succeed? There are many motivational books on success and they all contain great ideas on how to become a millionaire, how to beat the herd, and so forth. Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ is one such book you are likely to find gracing the libraries of many wells to do peoples homes. The ideas in all these books are marvelous and if we can follow them, they sure will lead to success. But what most of these manuals do not explicitly say is that success is a process and the only way to ensure it is to be consistent.
Imagine you are navigating a boat. You want to steer towards one of the major islands in Lake Victoria, say Bukasa. Having a good boat and fuel is not good enough, because if you do not stick to the task at hand the winds on the sea will blow you in any direction. To get to Bukasa, you have to steer your bought with purpose into the direction you want to go to. You must stick to that particular action consistently no matter what else you are required to attend to in the course of the journey. Steer long enough, with a sense of purpose and commitment and you shall arrive at the destination you intended to travel towards in the first place.
And so it is with business. In this power series, we have noted the need for self-belief, resilience, and repetition. And so as you master repetition, you must master consistency. To be consistent requires you have harmony, regularity or steady continuity. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, but every time you don’t start on the task at hand you are giving up on consistency. So what is your game plan? You need a plan so that you have clarity on all you need to do in order to be successful. Thus if you are going to borrow money for your business, the bank wants a business plan, if you want to save money, you need a plan. If the plan is written then it becomes a good reference point and can be used for control and assessment of the extent to which you are over or underachieving!
There is a common saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That is what successful people do. No matter what the circumstances, no matter what the conditions, they will keep on being productive in spite of the circumstances. They will fully apply themselves to the task at hand with single-mindedness and consistency. Actually what distinguishes victors from victims is the ability not to forget. The former know the goal, and they will keep it in mind, postponing self-gratification for the bigger prize. That takes a good mind that keeps the coordinates I view.
And so if you are running a small business and you want it to grow, you need to have a consistent kind of discipline not to dissipate your capital on the ‘finer things in life’. You must resolve to save and grow the business, regardless of what goodies your neighbors are enjoying now. What you are attempting to do is to build up a sizeable amount of capital and increase the volume of investment in the business. Such an attitude that postpones self-gratification can only come from consistency of purpose.
Consistency is a mysterious pattern of behavior. It distinguishes excellence from mediocrity. Some label this principle as “paying your dues” and that’s an accurate assessment. No one, no matter how gifted or talented, will achieve their potential without it.
Nelson Mandela is one such person who was true and consistent with his calling. In Conversations with Myself, he tells the story of how his frail mother came to visit him in jail. He narrates that as she turned to go, he could not help but feel that he was seeing her for the last time. He was struck with guilt and wondered with pain whether he had not betrayed her, in trying to fight for the rights of other people. It was a very trying moment, but he did not abandon his cause, even at this, one of the lowest moments in his life. Shortly after she passed away but he was not allowed to attend her funeral. His son also passed away in an accident but he was not allowed to attend his funeral. But he stayed the course. The rest is history. Nelson Mandela is a living icon. He went on to become President of South Africa and enjoys the freedom of the whole world. His success was borne of consistency of purpose. Despite the pain, despite the humiliation, he stayed the course.
And so it is with business. To be consistent is to start walking on the road to success. To forego consumption today in favor of a better choice tomorrow. To go and get results and not to blame the environment. After all, success is about managing the environment. If all the other principles do not work for you, as a minimum remain true to your business. And that can only be achieved by being consistent. By visualizing where the business will be in 20 years from now. Go on and dream the impossible dream. Then say like one Barack Obama did say, ‘yes we can’. You too can.