Several months ago, I read an inspirational blog post from leadership author and friend Angie Morgan about a documentary she watched at the Traverse City Film Festival.
The film, After So Many Days, chronicled one year in the life of a two-person band, Jim and Sam, and how—after feeling frustrated and stuck in their efforts to promote their music—they decided to do something drastic.
They were going on a year-long tour with one mission: to perform every single day for the entire year—even if it meant playing for patrons in a neighborhood coffee shop or customers at a random liquor store, or serenading to a food delivery guy. For one whole year, they were going to be relentless in pursuing their dream. Check out the trailer–it’s pretty compelling!
To me, their story is another reminder of the under-appreciated importance of consistency in a culture that loves intensity.
One of my favorite leadership quotes that speaks to this is from John Maxwell:
You will never change anything in your life…until you change something you do daily.
Let’s face it. We are a society that loves quick wins and flashy paint jobs over steady, consistent, and often-mundane change.
In Aesop’s famous fable, we tend to identify more with the dashing hare than the plodding tortoise. But just as the faster hare ended up losing the race, so intensity is never enough if you’re committed to winning. Author Simon Sinek puts it this way:
Intensity is like going to the dentist. We know when we’re going, how long we will be there, and when we’re done. Our teeth will be smooth and look pearly. But if that’s all we do, eventually, our teeth will fall out. Intensity is not enough, so we need to brush our teeth twice a day. What does brushing your teeth for 2 minutes do for you? Nothing…unless you do it every single day.
You can apply Sinek’s observations in so many areas of work and life:
• Having a salad instead of a burger & fries for lunch once in a while verses every day.
• Going to the gym for 4 hours occasionally verses 30 minutes every day.
• Attending a 3-day leadership conference once a year verses reading for 20 minutes a day from a content-rich leadership book.
• Taking your spouse on a romantic getaway weekend at an expensive resort for your 20th anniversary verses scheduling a weekly date night.
In every case, choosing consistency over intensity will, in the beginning, produce no measurable impact on your physical health, leadership capacity, or relational intimacy. But over 6 months, 2 years, or 10 years, it will transform your life…like it transformed Jim and Sam’s lives in the film.
For the record, intensity is awesome! I love attending conferences, crushing myself at the gym, and planning vacations with my wife. But if you’re committed to lasting, meaningful transformation, it’s the accumulation of little things that, over time, lead you to become the best version of yourself.
Here’s a question to consider: What’s one area of your life where swapping intensity for consistency would have the greatest impact?