“Trevor when you packed my things where did you put my weights?” These were the words which Nelson Mandela asked Trevor Manuel (ex South African Finance Minister), a day after he had been released from jail after 27 years. ‘Your weights?’ Trevor asked. ‘Yes, my weights. I gym every morning, I need my weights!’ Mandela responded matter-of-factly. This was in a telephone call at 500am in the morning! It sounds rather surprising for someone who had spend 27 years in jail to worry about weights just a day after tasting freedom. However this is the hallmark of Nelson Mandela – consistency. He has led a life of consistency whether in speech or in action. So consistent is this democracy icon that 26 years after his Rivonia Trial (in 1964) speech he used exactly the same words to end his Freedom speech (in 1990) as follows:
‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die ‘ – Nelson Mandela in 1964 and 1990
Without doubt, the force of consistency has helped Mandela realize his ideals during his lifetime. This is a lesson to every one of us that if we cultivate consistency we will enjoy the fruits of our ideals, dreams and aspirations. Consistency is the ability to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with no variation. Consistency produces specific desired patterns of behaviour, intended habits and the attitudes that lead to achievement of your dreams. Consistency is the force that will bring energy to stuttering goals and receding dreams.
The Backbone of Dreams
Most dreams and goals never mature because they lack the backbone of consistency. Consistency gives structure and form to your goals. Like a brick, every consistent action you take contributes towards your dream. If you want to give muscle to your dreams you need to be consistent. If you have ever been to a gym, you will know that you cannot develop muscles in a day even if you are on steroids. Some things you need to do every day. Praying once per week every Saturday for 7 straight hours instead of 1 hour per day might not produce results. You need consistency. Consistency develops habits, and habits develop character and character leads to destiny. Be consistent in your work performance, marriage, parenting, commitment to ministry, character, finances and speech. Maintain your high level of standards with no variation. The results will soon show.
As Jim Rohn said, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day” It is the accumulative weight of your consistent actions and your judgments that leads you to either fortune or failure.
Consistency Is Action
Consistency is not a theory. It is action. You build consistency around your values and believing in what you are doing. This affects your choices, actions and decisions. The stronger your beliefs and values are the more consistent you will become. If you add meaning to your work, business or ministry, you will develop consistency. Consistency is a reflection of what you value or believe in the most. Mandela is so consistent because he is prepared to die for his ideals. If you catch this simple truth you will never again let your goals drift on auto pilot. Secondly consistency comes from a clear sense of purpose and priorities. An ant is good example of what purpose driven consistency can achieve. They are so small yet can build a big anthill. They stick to the task at hand. Jesus was consistent because he was driven by His purpose. He never gave in nor gave up, not even in the face of death.
A foot path or animal trail is an example of what consistency can do. Initially, the grass bounces back as animals or people walk over it. With time the grass gives in to consistent foot fall until a trail is blazed. This same principle applies to whatever goals you are pursuing in your life. Initially you may experience resistance, but as you consistently pursue them, soon you will blaze a trail to your dreams. A similar path is simultaneously etched in your brain, and this is what sets mental anchors for future success. Consistency teaches or programs your brain the ways of success.
I want you to identify one area you want to be consistent in over the next 21 days. If you repeatedly do something for the next 21 days it will become a habit which will in turn build your character. It could something as simple as writing in your journal every day, spending quality time with your loved one every evening, reading your Bible daily, kicking that habit you have been battling with, reading something new, saving more money, or just learning to be joyful. Success in any area of your life is a function of consistency.