“A flash in the pan or consistent performance”

Business 23rd August 2018

Why you should think twice about employing England cricketers. There’s every chance you’re not an obsessive cricket fan, so we’ll keep this sporting analogy brief.

Last month, the men’s England team played its 1,000 Test Match.  Nothing particularly remarkable in that.  But, did you know that, England cricket results are almost impossible to predict?  Look at their last 50 results –

Won 22, Drawn 8, Lost 20.

As for consistency, of those 50 matches, the maximum sequence of any result type is five.  In other words, recent England performances can best be described as haphazard.  Look at the individual players’ performances and these are equally unpredictable.  Can we learn lessons here about consistency in the workplace?

Value = Consistency

Are you an employee, a manager or a CEO?  Either way, your company will value you according to your perceived potential.  In other words, what can you achieve tomorrow? Next month? Next year? What will your future productivity look like?

Of course, no-one can be sure of this perceived potential.  It’s often an educated guess.  But ‘educated guesses’ in business are not popular.  Successful companies tend to make their predictions on the basis of concrete evidence.  And what’s the most reliable form of evidence they can use to assess the value of their human resource?

Consistency of performance … or to use another sporting analogy, track record.

How consistent are you?

Most of us can perform well at one meeting, have one impressive conference, make one engaging presentation.  Most of us can be excellent every now and then.  But are you excellent consistently?  If you are, that’s a rarity – something spectacularly special.  Consistent excellence sends a strong message to both employers and colleagues.  And what is this message?

You are of value – considerable value.

It won’t surprise you to learn that high performance consistency takes time.  It could hardly be otherwise.  Overnight consistency?  Well there’s a classic oxymoron for you.  To build consistency, you must replicate positive behaviour day after day, week after week, month after month … until it defines you.

Do you really want to give consistent value?  Here are four ways to help you achieve this goal –

1. Identify a single goal

Consistent behaviour isn’t natural.  In fact, it goes against human nature.  Initially, it can be a pain.  It takes a lot of effort.  Don’t try and change too much about yourself too soon.  Pick off your goals one at a time.  Go for the biggest targets first – your biggest personal challenge, your most damaging inconsistency.  Start there.  Work at it.  Correct it.  Maintain the change.  Then move on to the next goal.

2. Focus on incremental improvement

You won’t develop new, positive habits overnight.  We humans just don’t work like that.  True change can take months.  But when it does happen … well, wait and see.  Your personal stock will rocket sky high.  That’s the time to quietly celebrate.  Enjoy those small wins.  They’ll keep you motivated.

3. Feed your brain.  Fight the tiredness

The brain is fuel-hungry.  It uses loads of energy.  That’s why we sometimes feel slothful or lazy, particularly when faced with a challenge, like changing the way we work.  So, remember to feed your brain well.  That means good nutrition and plenty of physical exercise.  Sometimes, however, feelings of laziness are a biological trick of the mind.  Don’t be taken in.  Push forward.  Keep your eye on the prize.

4. Be kind to yourself.  Be forgiving

Guess what?  You’re human.  And possibly just slightly less than perfect.  In your quest for consistency, you’ll stumble.  You’ll fall down.  It’s inevitable.  You’ll be late for a meeting.  You’ll miss a deadline.  You’ll skip the gym.  That’s OK.  You’re not a failure.  Believe it or not, there is such a person as a consistency expert.  His name is James Clear.  In an article on good habits, he says, “Slipping on your habits doesn’t make you a failure.  It makes you normal. What separates top performers from everyone else is that they get back on track quickly.”

So, listen to James.  Forgive yourself and focus on your goals.  Move forward.

The message here is that predictable, consistent excellence will give immeasurable value to your company.  In the long run, this will be great for your business or employer and great for your career.

Finally, if you happen to know a member of the England cricket team, perhaps you’d forward them this blog?

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