I wrote earlier this year about the power of consistency. And I still believe this is a very desirable and effective trait in any endeavour.
If you have an introspective nature and a commitment to doing the Inner Work, you may become aware that you have, to some degree or another, an incredible propensity for inconsistency.
I sure know I have.
The thing is for many years, I beat myself up over this. I still do actually, but less so as I am learning three things:
- to recognise how I am habitually inconsistent
- to recognise when it matters and when it doesn’t
- to become more consistent where it matters
Inconsistency – Sometimes It’s A Good Thing
There is a trend in Silicon Valley type start-up culture to celebrate failure. Basically the idea goes that failing is a part of being a gung-ho entrepreneur in the making, so go and break things, and once you’ve failed a few times you might just go and win at something.
I kind of agree actually, especially as it applies to personal development. And I think the same applies to being inconsistent.
Inconsistency is Part of Being Creative
If you look back at the careers of your favourite artists, be they musicians, painters, whatever, it is very normal for their output to be easily categorised (according to taste and/or commercial success) on a sliding scale from Great to Shithouse. It’s actually kind of expected, in fact, that all great artists will be kind of inconsistent, if not in output volume then at least in quality.
Same goes for businesses – a good example being Google, whose product range and output has been huge over the last decade or so, and has included total duds and runaway successes.
Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that a few months ago I made a bit of noise about rolling out a new commercial arm to the Rebel Zen website. I spent many, many hours planning and writing and reworking the website to integrate my marketing skills into the concept of the brand, catering to creative people. After knocking myself out getting it ready over an extended period of time, I launched. And I asked for feedback.
Most of the feedback I got was positive, but I got one email from a long-time reader, Manny, who gave me a blunt opinion that what I done made Rebel Zen seem like it had a split-personality and that this wasn’t a good thing.
I respectfully thanked Manny for the opinion, but kind of brushed it off.
But then over the next couple of weeks, now that I was able to look at the work with a little perspective (not being all caught up in delivering it), I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. It just wasn’t quite right.
To my horror, the feeling only grew stronger.
Eventually I came to agree with Manny’s comments. There was nothing unsound about the idea of helping creative people with their marketing –
but it just didn’t seem to belong as a part of Rebel Zen. It looked to me like an extra arm grafted onto an otherwise healthy body.
I left it a while to give myself time to think about it. Then I got really annoyed about it for a while and avoided it altogether. And then I pulled it. Just wiped it offthe site like it never happened.
And that’s ok. It was just a step in the creative journey.
The end result is that I feel really clear about what Rebel Zen actually is and is not going forward and about the importance of sending single, clear signals out there for maximum impact.
So You’re Inconsistent – So What?
Like I said, I used to bash myself up a lot about being inconsistent. But now I am more selective about the areas in which I focus on improving my ability to be consistent while allowing myself full licence to be erratic as I want to be in others, creative process being one of them.
In the end the things you’ve started that are worth finishing wait for you. The trick is to get them done of course, but eventually I do. And if I am a little inconsistent in my ways along the journey, well, I don’t think that matters – to an extent. Obviously if you are constantly erratic, never finishing anything at all, then this isn’t going to work out too well. But if you’re a creative person, then you’re not a robot. If you start five paintings (or songs or businesses) and only finish one – but that one is amazing, then does it matter?
Michael Jordan said that his secret for shooting so many points was taking more shots at the basket than anyone else.
I think it was him anyway, but I’m not sure … I quite consistently avoid all sport like the plague!