June 2014


This post got me thinking about the value of consistency.  The author’s focus is on consistent effort rather than the quality of being consistent, which is my purpose.

Consistency is a close cousin to reliability.  Both of these virtues are treasures in the workplace.  I’m not talking about consistency in external circumstances, such as delayed shipments or defective product.  Those are a fact of life and can’t be controlled easily.  I’m focused on personal consistency.  This involves a pattern of behavior, habits.

  • Do you have a routine that addresses the most important items in the day first?
  • Do you regularly check in with key partners to learn about their projects that may affect your tasking?
  • Do you have a strategy for managing your email inbox?
  • Do you check your task list at the start and end of your day?

Let’s look at some examples of consistency.

  1. Is there anything more frustrating than leaving a voice mail or sending an email and not getting a response or even an acknowledgement?  Last week I was traveling and my inbox was full of messages that needed responses when I returned.  After I prioritized them I sent a few quick messages to people whose issues could not be addressed immediately.  In the message, I reassured them that I had received the message and was working on their issue.  It took a few minutes to send these out but it was worth it.  The recipient knew that I had received the message, that I understood what they needed and was working on a solution/answer.  If my response was not clear or there was additional information to provide, my message gave the other person an opportunity to provide that information.  If they need an answer sooner they can tell me that too.  My colleagues expect this from me and know I will follow through.
  2. Deadlines got their name for a reason.  It is the last possible time for something to be completed.  I strive to have my work done well in advance of any deadline.  Do I always achieve that goal?  Of course not.  But that doesn’t mean I should give up.  My goal is never be the reason a project cannot be completed on time.  I’m far from perfect but this is a goal I have set for myself and my coworkers expect this from me.  The author of the article linked above correctly points out,  “it’s really easy to confuse being consistent with being perfect. And that is a problem because there is no safety margin for errors, mistakes, and emergencies.”  I can say with confidence that my work will be done, and done well, before the deadline actually arrives.    I developed this as a way to protect myself but experience has taught me that something unexpected always comes up when a deadline approaches.

I will end this post with a piece of advice from the article linked above.

How to Be Consistent: Plan For Failure

Consistency is essential for success in any area. There is no way to get around the fact that mastery requires a volume of work.

But if you want to maintain your sanity, reduce stress, and increase your odds of long-term success, then you need to plan for failure as well as focus on consistency. As I mentioned in my Habits Workshop, research from Stanford professor Kelly McGonigal has shown that the number one reason why willpower fades and people fail to remain consistent with their habits and goals is that they don’t have a plan for dealing with failure.

Clear and concise writing is hard to find these days.   Collectively we don’t know how to express our thoughts or meaning into the written word any more.

I had the good fortune to work under a passionate editor early in my career.  She provided meticulous feedback on everything I wrote and I am a better writer because of it.

I also benefited from a word count restriction that forced me to be very judicious with the words I used.  Think Twitter without emoticons or abbreviations.

When I came across this article recently I knew I had to share it immediately.  “Strong writing is lean writing.”  The author recommends cutting 10 words from your writing.  Below is one example.

1. Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence.

Cutting these words will change the way you express yourself in writing.  Give it a try and see what happens.

 

 

Here is a nice article on being likable.  This is such an underappreciated characteristic.  The author makes the point, “If you’re disliked, it may not matter how competent you are, people simply won’t want to work with you.”

Likability reminds me of Guy Kawasaki’s recent book on Enchantment.  In it he provides his own advice on likability.

Kawasaki’s are more practical but both authors provide good food for thought.