Consistency Beats Intensity 

I am a runner. I don’t run marathons or other races. I don’t run with other people. I don’t run because I love the great outdoors. I don’t run because I need to clear my head.  

I run so I can eat whatever I want…which is getting less effective as I get older! 

If I want to sustain successful running for a long time, I have to be consistent. As I get older, I have to focus more on longer distances at lower and slower paces and impact. I have to concentrate on form and soft, midfoot landings. I have to warm up before and stretch after. I have to cross-train in strength and flexibility. I can’t just walk out the door and run six or seven miles in an hour like I could ten years ago. 

Isn’t the same true for executing any winning strategy? 

The intense bursts are great, but they’re unsustainable. Eventually, you get injured, your diet catches up, the weather doesn’t cooperate for a week, and myriad other inconveniences. 

In our businesses we have unexpected cash flow issues, people who don’t pay on time, a key leadership team member who gets sick or resigns, or a new leader who changes the strategy. In our personal lives, we sustain our diets for a few days then succumb to the cookies we bought “just so we could have one or two”… 

Look at history. Humans were designed for intense bursts followed by periods of rest. In the 21st Century, though, we’ve designed a world that demands sustained efforts, or consistency. So, we have to adapt. 

Environment matters more than willpower. Willpower is like a battery. It starts fully charged each day and depletes as the day wears on. That’s why most regrets and mistakes occur later in the day. 

But the environment can be set ahead of time, in ideal conditions, and can then limit or eliminate poor options when willpower is depleted. Instead of cookies “just in case”, buy fruit. Instead of large accounts receivables balances, keep plenty of cash on hand. Instead of “adapting to external conditions in the moment”, pick an easy strategy based on the vision of what you hope to achieve that you can execute on your worst days. Instead of focused work “when you can get to it”, schedule time each day or week when you’re normally at your peak. 

Consistency beats intensity every single time. And intensity cannot be maintained for the long haul. Make your environment work for you and being a “disciplined” person gets a lot easier. 


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