In Praise of Consistency

I am at my Second Choice diner this morning. For those of you who read regularly, you know I have a place I call my Favorite Diner. And it is my favorite by a mile. But it is only open a few mornings a week, so on those other mornings, I drive to nearby Granville, New York for breakfast and to write a bit.

My Second Choice diner is a relic from the fifties. A long counter with stools. Knotty Pine walls. A serious Lodge kind of feel with Faux bear skins on the wall and a mini-moose mounted over one of the tables. Sconce lamps with pine trees on the shades.

The food is not as good. The music is reliably country, always the same, no variety. The coffee is “meh”. But the people who work here are delightful and in our way, we have become close. They were particularly solicitous of me as I went through my cancer and recovery, mother henning me for a couple of years. Even now, they watch me like a hawk, to make sure I am OK. Now and again, they buy me breakfast.

I go to my Second Choice diner more often than I go to my favorite diner, even though it is my second choice by a mile. Why? Because they are always there. My favorite diner have become hit and miss because of staffing problems.

I value consistency. I value it a lot. It likely is one of those things that goes back to my childhood, when my alcoholic father could be alternately wonderful and brutal. I never knew exactly what I was coming home to.

My mother on the other hand was the model of consistency. She was what she was, no matter what. Nothing could change her, her attitudes, her way of being. And she taught that to us both by word and actions.

I have not always succeeded. Mostly, but not always. I want to think I am consistent, someone that mostly you can predict and count on who and what I am. I want to think it is noticeable. I am not always sure it is true.

I can remember when my kids moved up here with me. They too had lived in a place of inconsistency for a number of years. It showed in a deep uncertainty as they dealt with me, a father they had been away from except for visits or a few weeks in the summer. There was a wariness, understandable and deep. It took time for them to relax. To understand that I was pretty much the same day to day. When they got there, a lot of healing happened.

Work too, seemed to value consistency. I am not, and never have been great at anything. But I am consistently good at most things. I can figure most things out. That resulted in me being tapped to do all kinds of things outside my “job description”. It was crazy fun for me. And I like to think the companies benefitted. Certainly, they all treated me well.

I think we don’t always completely understand the value of consistency. We don’t extoll it the same way we extoll talent or being smart or good looks or cleverness. And yet, the power of consistency is amazing.

I had a choir director once. And those of us who were in the choir were, well, ordinary to fair. Not a one of us real solo-quality folks. But she worked with us, steady, consistent, slightly nudging us, week after week. And in that consistency, we became really, really good. Someone else I took lessons from.

I see the same thing in my coaching clients. The people who consistently do the work, consistently meet with me, chip away at their dreams get there, and get there when often smarter, more talented, better-placed people do not.

Because consistency works. It builds love that lasts. It changes hearts and minds. It builds trust. And it is a path that gets us where we want to go. Even when there are interruptions.

And there are always interruptions.

I have been in an interruption place for some time now. I have some plans that I really want to happen. And life has been, as it sometimes is, one big interruption. I haven’t done any substantial work on my big goals for some time.

But I do keep at it. Every day there were not interruptions, I chip away at it. I will do some work on it today. Doing the work. Consistently. Will I get there? Count on it.

Why am I writing this? Well, often I have said that when I write I am mostly preaching to myself. And that is what I am doing today. Reminding myself. To be consistent. To not give up. To be mike my Second Choice diner, simply be there, every day.

Have a great day. Take a step towards your dreams. And another. You’ll get there.

Tom

(Sorry for the blurry picture, but I did not have my camera and I wanted you to get a feel for the place.)

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