About the author: Matt Ackerson is the founder of PetoVera, a professional web design company, and an avid student of the principles of creativity and self-improvement. He writes a daily article on the company’s blog.
This post isn’t really about punching holes through walls (although you can if you really want to try), and yes, “WTF” indeed, so please read on…
Imagine yourself on a journey. You’re walking to get to your destination, a goal perhaps, something you want. You walk for hours, days, maybe years.
A lack of food or water is not an issue on this journey. But at some point, you arrive at a giant concrete wall that blocks your path, even as you are certain that the thing you desire is just beyond this boundary.
This wall is so massive in width that it’s impossible to walk around it. You don’t have the equipment to climb over it, so that isn’t an option either.
All you have is your body, your hands—your fists.
Now, of course you try to be practical at first. You look for the weak points in the structure. Maybe you can find a loose block or a small hole to start with. Alas, there is nothing of the sort.
Undeterred, since both time and food are not a factor on this journey, you begin punching this gray concrete wall with nothing but your bare knuckles.
You grow tired eventually, so you go to sleep. The next day, you wake up next to the wall, still undeterred, you start again. You alternate between your palms and your knuckles now.
The next day you get even smarter. You draw an “X” on the wall to pinpoint the exact place where you will keep applying pressure. Now you’re alternating between kicking, scratching, palming, and punching the wall.
Every day you wake up and you repeat this routine. Every single day. For one year.
At first, nothing happens. The wall is just there.
“Fuck you wall!” you start to say.
You ask yourself some smart questions like, “Why am I yelling at a wall?”
Or: “I’m punching and kicking a concrete wall. What the hell has my life come to…”
You have your doubts, but you still believe that what you want, the thing you desire the most your goal, lies literally a few yards away, just behind that wall.
Eventually, there is a blessed day where you start to notice results. There’s an imprint at the center of the “X” –it looks warped, distorted.
Encouraged now, you continue your daily routine with new hope and new fervor.
You experiment with new techniques, such as pouring some water on the wall in between kicking and punching sessions (you surmise that the water will help to soften up the concrete).
A few weeks later a chunk of the wall falls out. It breaks in two on the ground. There is now a small hole in the wall. You can see through to the other side. You can see the outline of the thing you desire.
You persist once more in your routine. But now it’s coming more easily. Chunks of the wall are falling out weekly, and then daily. The hole is widening, until—one day—you can climb through!
You’ve reached the destination and the object of your deepest desires.
Now what is the point of this story?
My point is to show you with your imagination what is true in real life. I call it, “The Law of Consistency.”
Notice, I didn’t say “The Law of Persistence” rather it is The Law of Consistency. This is because if you do not perform an action or deliver consistent results, it is much more difficult to know if it is working in your favor.
For example, for 7 weeks now I’ve been writing one article every single weekday for my company’s blog on PetoVera.com. Traffic has increased over 350% during that time.
It’s not the best looking blog design and the articles aren’t always perfect, but I’ve forced myself to be like a machine and get it done every single weekday.
When I first started writing articles, I would do it off and one, maybe twice per week, many once, maybe nothing for two or more weeks straight.
Then I got mad. I got mad at myself because I hated little I actually tried, how easy I was being on myself, and how I expect results from a marginal amount of inconsistent effort.
I was being persistent in my writing over time you see, but there was a huge lack of consistency in the application of effort.
The thing that finally pushed me over the edge and forced me to commit myself to the effort was reading about how one of my heros, Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com, had successfully stuck to his promise to publish a 1 hour video interview every single week.
I thought, if Andrew can do a 1 hour video interview and publish one every single friggin weekday, which requires 10x the effort of a blog post, heck I can write with consistency and get out one article every day.
So that’s what I did.
At first nothing happened. Traffic was flat. But I kept writing and I would go back each day and look at the data.
Slowly, traffic started to pick up. Then I wrote one article that got a few shares on Facebook. Then the next day I wrote an article listing examples of why entrepreneurship isn’t as glamorous as some people might think.
It was shared over 160 times and traffic soared.
It settled back down for the next week, but I kept looking back at the data and studied why that one article was so successful.
Then, one week later I wrote an article that went viral again, but this time traffic was double what it was for the article one week previous.
What I’ve learned here is that the more consistent I am with writing, the better I am able to tell what works and what doesn’t. If I wasn’t consistent, it would be much more difficult to tell.
To get more specific: since I write every day, I know for a fact that X type of article generates more traffic and interest than Y type of article.
You can apply this to any other part of your life or business.
For instance, you might think “if I do arm curls, I’ll get stronger.” True, sort of.
If you refine it to be “If I do arm curls once per week, I’ll get stronger,” this is absolutely true.
Similarly, I’m now looking to apply the Law of Consistency to other parts of my business and personal life.
Example: if I clean my apartment once each day for 10 minutes, I will feel positive because my environment will be more controlled and conducive to productivity.
However, if I were to do this sporadically, my living environment would fluctuate between being messy and being clean. I would feel less in control of myself, my environment, and my thoughts, which would negatively affect my productivity.
In my business, we specialize in creating visually stunning websites that drive more sales for clients.
At the end of a project, we used to take a survey of our performance, asking what we did well and where we need to improve. We did this consistently for a while and then stopped.
As a result, we’re not 100% clear about what we’re doing right and where we need to improve.
Plus, we’re missing out on some great referral opportunities (since we ask for client recommendations on the form).
If my team and I would consistently get this survey filled out by the client each time, we would have greater knowledge of how we’re doing as a business and also we would most definitely grow faster.
Again, applied consistency shows you what’s working over time; it helps you make smarter choices when it comes to tweaking what you’re already doing for adding productivity and growth.
The Law of consistency is what great businesses like McDonalds, Apple, and Zappos already know and apply to get better and bigger year after year.
They’re punching holes through concrete walls daily, how about you?
Sebastian: I shook my head the first time I saw this post - punching holes through concrete walls? But I actually like the metaphor. Certainly, a lot of times success feels like hammering on an invincible wall... until a little chunk of wall falls off. The points about consistency are good too. Thanks for sharing Matt. You can find more of Matt's writings on the Petovera blog.