For the past 21 months, I've been running 3 or 4 times a week. Week in, week out, month after month. I run Tuesday's, Thursday's, sometimes Friday's and Sunday's. I averaged 117km per month in 2017, and roughly 120km per month this year. I am, consistent.
On my run last night, on a downhill section, I was passed, quite briskly, by another runner. He smiled and waved as he passed, to which I smiled and waved back. At the bottom of the hill he turned and took the same route as I was taking, and so I followed - now about 200m behind. For a brief flat section the gap between us maintained, but as the road steepened ahead the gap started to narrow more and more until I passed him towards to the top of the hill.
This same scenario played out again on the next down and uphill section of my run until our routes forked at the top of a particularly steep hill, at which point he was quite far behind. It struck me at this point that what had played out was a perfect illustration of the power of consistency.
You see, I didn't catch him because I had an urge to run faster and 'beat' him. No, I'm not that way inclined (I am super-competitive, but mostly with myself and the clock), I passed him because of consistency. I passed him because I could sustain my pace on the uphill, where he couldn't. And while this sustained pace was slower downhill and perhaps similar on the flat sections, it turned out to be significantly faster uphill.
And man, this is a lesson for life.
Think about your relationships, friends, your family members, your work colleagues. The easiest people to love, befriend, work with - those people are consistent. Or they're not, and they're either not in your space anymore, or if they are, they're most likely making you miserable.
Why is President Trump so terrifying? Because he's so fucking unpredictable and inconsistent.
Why is your explosive boss so tiring? Because random mood swings are unpredictable, inconsistent, draining.
Why is losing weight, getting fit, so hard? Because flipping between healthy eating, exercising regularly to eating rubbish and never leaving the couch - inconsistency - makes it impossible to meaningfully move forward towards your goals of weight loss, fitness and health.
In my personal relationship with Tracey, my wife - who is also my best friend - I know that I am easiest to love when I'm consistent. Wild emotions, from loving and intimate to distant and cold just creates a climate of instability. If I can't be trusted to keep my emotions consistent how can I be trusted to do anything consistently?
Before I lost 35kgs I was miserable. Sure, I deeply disliked being overweight but what I failed to realise at the time, was that this 'weight' had spilt over into almost every aspect of my life. I was unhappily married (again). I was unhappy at work. I was unhappy at home. I was unhappy I couldn't provide for my family. I was unhappy, and falling apart. And I can guarantee that I was unhappy to be around. I fairly certain my wife disliked me. I'm fairly sure my friends thought me not much fun to be around. Almost all relationships had broken down around me, I'm even pretty sure that at the time my boss disliked me and saw no meaningful future for me in the company.
I tried to seize on opportunities at work, but never followed through.
I tried to be a good friend, but never really bothered.
I tried to be a good father, but couldn't fake happy.
I tried to be a good husband, but mostly just fought.
I tried to get fit, but found good reasons not too.
I tried, but I didn't consistently try.
There was an opportunity at work. Something, that if I applied myself, could bring about meaningful change in my life. In my family's life. But, I knew that if I wanted it to work, I had to make a change in my life. And to change my life I knew I needed to change my mind. And to change my mind, somehow I knew that I needed to change my body. I needed discipline in my life. I needed to do a 180.
So, I put on my 10-year-old running shoes and started running. Every other day since. When it was freezing cold. When it was dark. When it was disgustingly hot. When it was perfect. When I was on holiday. 1km, 3km, 5km. Then 10km, 15km and 21km. From 8 minutes per kilometre to 7, 6, 5 and now sometimes under 5. From hating it to now looking forward to it, dreading hills to now relishing them - pushing harder, faster and further.
I was consistent and disciplined, and becoming resilient.
1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Beyond the physical transformation over the past 21 months, it's the changes mentally which have had the biggest impact on my life. Because in building physical resilience and toughness from hours on the road, the biproduct is a learned mental toughness - like the definition states - to recover quickly from difficulties.
But, this is not luck. This didn't happen by chance. Things did not simply fall into place. It happened because of a willing, conscious decision, made every single day, that it had to and need to happen. And like progressing from running 5km to 21km, it wasn't easy. It was fucking hard.
Acknowledging deep flaws within your personality - that all the problems you find yourself in are a culmination of all the personal decisions you've made in the past which have lead up to that point, is not easy. It's fucking hard. Acknowledging that your marriage is failing because of you, is fucking hard. Truly taking responsibility is fucking hard. Running 21km at 4:50 m/km is fucking hard. Pushing on when you're gasping for air up a hill is fucking hard. Listening when all you want to do is yell in an argument is fucking hard. Not throwing in the towel sometimes, is fucking hard.
Life, is fucking hard!
But it is way harder if you're inconsistent.
Because inconsistency breeds hostility, doubt, fear...
Be consistent spouses - otherwise, our marriages will fall apart
Be consistent parents - otherwise, our children will be lost
Be consistent friends - otherwise, our relationships will fall apart
Be consistent employees - otherwise, you'll be out of a job
1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
1. Consistent behaviour or treatment.
2. The quality of achieving a level of performance which does not vary greatly in quality over time.
3. The way in which a substance holds together.
It's worth reminding ourselves what these words mean. Certainly, what they mean to me - that with consistency I have learned what it is to be able to recover quickly from difficulties in many aspects of life, and in doing so have, in some part, become a substance which holds together, rather than falls apart.
And I think we're worth a lot more together than when we are apart. I know I certainly am.