When I was writing 5 Keys To Great Leadership Communication I felt like I might have left out consistency. Being consistent, where your actions line up with your words is the foundation of trust for most relationships. As humans, we look to see if the words that people say match up with how they are acting. We allow ourselves to be influenced by what people say about themselves so much so that when someone says they are strongly in favor of something but then don’t support it the way that we think they should we start to trust them less.
Consistency is a God-given superpower that allows us to reorganize our thoughts and actions to be consistent with our words. God created everything by speaking it into existence and He’s given us this same power! It’s not a power that you have to activate through intense concentration, this power is automatic, like a habit.
In this context consistency is the internal desire to make the world around you match up with what you believe. Beliefs, internal, spoken, written and declared, have the power to change the world, your world. When you believe something you unconsciously try to find or create evidence that is consistent with this belief. This is why consistency is so important to leadership and to life. An automatic, always on superpower needs to be stewarded in the proper way. We have to be very careful about what we are consistent with.
Consistency Is The Power Behind Goal Achievement
Consistency is such a powerful force that even something simple like saying affirmations works. It’s not the universe that is answering your affirmations, it’s your God-given power of consistency. When it comes to accomplishing our goals, consistency is the hidden force that helps or hinders us.
As a leader, you set goals and cast vision for your team. Our desire to see that things are consistent is actually the hidden power of writing down your goals. We can program our brains to seek consistency from our written and spoken words. Every goal-setting class will teach you that coming up with a goal is good, but writing it down makes you 30 times more likely to achieve it! That’s the power of your internal wiring for consistency.
Your internal consistency superpower can be manipulated to help you achieve more of your goals. Simply defining your goal or belief is enough to get the ball rolling. However, if you write your goal out or tell others about it, then your success rate skyrockets.
- Internal Goals – You’ve clarified your goal in your mind. You’ve already set yourself apart from the 83% of people who never have clearly defined goals.
- Spoken Goals (to yourself)- You’ve declared this goal out loud to yourself. This simple act makes your goal ten times more likely to be accomplished.
- Written Goals – Whether it’s in a journal or a written contract, the power of putting your goal down on paper is extraordinary. This increases your likelihood of completing your goal by a whopping thirty times.
- Promised Goals – Accountability. In this scenario, you’ve written your goals out and shared with another person and/or a small group. This isn’t broadcasting your goals. Doing this increases your chances of completing your goals by 95%!
Consistency Isn’t Always About Integrity
When you think about consistency, you likely think of integrity. Integrity is putting actions behind your words even if it hurts. It’s fulfilling promises. Integrity is what gets tested when the pressure is on. In almost every instance, integrity is positive consistency. Integrity is tied to honesty and good moral uprightness. Our brains are wired to look for congruent things. We see consistency as a trust factor, not just in communication but relationships. Sometimes this hardwiring for consistency can work against us. Like any superpower, there is a weakness.
The Dark Side Of Consistency
In research reported in Influence by Robert Caldini, he writes about the research on P.O.W.s in the Korean War. What they were trying to understand is why the prisoners had a somewhat favorable view of their captors and why no one ever escaped. The power of consistency showed up in the research. The researchers discovered that if the Chinese could get the prisoners to make small supportive statements that eventually they could get the soldiers to be compliant with larger requests. In the beginning, the prisoner might be asked to agree with a statement like, “The US isn’t perfect” but by the end, a prisoner would be able to write essays on communism and give up intel.
The power of small words built up over time. If the prisoner could admit that the US was not perfect, he could probably admit that communism might not be so bad in China. If communism was right for China then it could be “OK.” Eventually, some soldiers questioned the whole concept of the war in the first place. It was their brain’s desire for consistency that led the prisoners in baby steps to betray their training and accept Chinese ideals.
Consistency Can Reinforce Lies
Let’s take a moment to unpack this for a second. If the prisoners can believe that they support a cause that they were fighting against in the first place, then it’s not too far fetched to think that consistency might be hurting our lives as well. We’ve already seen where even internalized, unspoken goals are immediately more achievable. What if the things you say to yourself are having the same effect?
If you do any personality profile research you’ll know that most of our personalities are shaped from some dysfunctions in our childhood. Often it’s not direct damage from our parents but rather our poor interpretation of events that happened. In other words, as children, we interpreted an event incorrectly and believed a lie. For example, divorce in a home doesn’t mean that the children are unloved, however, that’s many children report feeling betrayed or unloved as a result.
This lie (no matter where it came from) is repeated internally over and over again, sometimes rising to the surface. “I’m not good enough!” or “I’m clumsy” or “I can never get it right!” are statements that we make all the time without thinking. Internally, our brain receives these statements to become a goal that you’ve spoken! In psychology, they call this a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your brain works to make what you experience consistent with what you say!
Consistency is a powerful force. Leaders can use it to build trust. Individuals can use it to help them accomplish goals. However, we must be intentional to capture every thought and use it to help us move forward in life.