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.
Everything is alright, however, you're article was more about punching through the wall than reaching goals. What does a person do after he's made that hole in the wall and scrapes through to the other side? He beats the rest of the wall down? He pointlessly overworked for achieving something which he could've done so more efficiently. After all, if the aim is to achieve, then wouldn't part of the aim be to do so efficiently? So what if you broke the wall? You couldve walked around it.
To punch holes through concrete walls takes a great deal of determination, courage and action. To say that you are going to do it is one thing, but to actually do it is another thing. Those two are totally different things, it´s like they are dwelling in two different worlds. I promise! A guy can for example say the sweetest things in the world, and then, what happens? Absolutely nothing! Damn! Then you realize that you have met an idiot! And you are also a dumb idiot for believing all his lies! I say to all of you on this page: Don´t take shit anymore! By doing this you show the world that you have a strong confidence, that you can believe you can acchieve great things, without taking shit from other people. And that is a good thing, at least for your own self esteem! In this world, it has always meant something when people know how to behave in a good manner! I promise! Give and you´ll receive! Be kind and others will be kind in return! Do good things to others and you will get good things back! It really is like Karma! Like Agatha Christe wrote about the heroine in her book "Murder in Mesopotamia": She was always polite to other people and that means something even in our days.
This is about doing what others think is impossible to do. But nothing in this world is impossible. The word itself says: I´m possible!
Imagination works a lot, you have to visualize your goal before you can reach it(former basketplayer Michael Jordan said this). And then you start to take action, and then you make up some good habits. And then eventually after a lot consistent work, you have reached your goal! Wow, just think that a little human being like you actually can perform such amount of work! You can because the divine light and power is within yourself. You are can acchieve whatever you want and do whatever you want to do in your life. Good luck!
I can't believe there are no other comments! Dude, you totally rocked it up. Great article man, I evernoted it for future reference to the law of consistency :D
I'll definitely do something similar with my blog and test the results. It's the only way to know what subjects really work and which ones do not!
I read your post "The Million Dollar Question". It was very good. Thank you for sharing it. I can see myself in the friends you mentioned. I have these dreams of ways to increase my income. I have an internet side business that makes about $1500 a month. I know that there are many different ways I can scale it. In my mind I see the way, the things I need to do. But then I sit down to do those things and I freeze. I believe I am frozen by fear. I fear that if I do these things and they don't succeed, I have wasted my time. Or, I sit down and think of all the things I need to do to get to the endpoint and I think "that is a whole lot of work". So I don't do anything. I waste an hour reading HN and playing solitaire. It is really stupid.
Anyway, your post really made me think about it. I think I will write a plan of all the things I need to do to scale in one direction. Then I will break down the plan in small enough steps that can be accomplished in an hour or two. I'll write each step on a Post-It note. When I finish the step, I'll put it on the wall so I (and my wife) can see the progress. What do you think?
I think it's a good idea, and I empathize with where you're at. A few thoughts -
First, I think it can be helpful to start thinking in terms of expected value (EV) - I learned it from playing poker. If you play poker, you're often in a position where you make money on average by doing a good play, but you'll still lose a lot of the time. For instance, if you have an 80% chance of winning a hand and you get a big bet at you - of course you call. But 20% of the time you'll lose. Which sucks, but you've got to just shrug and not get upset because you did the right thing.
The one thing I consistently fail to account for when planning trips, especially shorter ones, is the disruption it will cause to my routine. For over a hundred days in a row, I wrote a blog post every day, did a Chinese lesson, worked on SETT, and a few other things for which I hold myself accountable.
I went to Peru for ten days, and although I started off strong, jamming in the blog post and Chinese lessons on my flights and bus ride to the Andes, once I started hiking I stopped doing those things. No real foul there, because breathing and walking had become difficult first priorities. When I got back to civilization, still in Peru, I resumed working hard on SETT, but I stopped doing Chinese lessons. I was practicing Spanish every day, though, so that made it okay. I wrote a monster blog post about Peru and sort of let myself coast on that. After all, it was a lot longer than my average post.
I got back to San Francisco and had only a week before I was going to Mexico. That week was great. I felt bad about being off schedule, so I used that as motivation to get back on. I rated three of those days as As and four as Bs, which is a pretty solid week. Next there are ten days completely missing from my schedule. I remember them, though. I worked on SETT every day while I was in Mexico, at a reduced capacity, as expected. I did a couple Chinese lessons, but was speaking Spanish, and fell behind on blog posts. Maybe I wrote four during those ten days.
Again, I got back and got back on schedule, but this time with less consistency. One day I gave myself an F and didn't even write any notes on the day. A few others I got Ds. There are As and Bs, too, but not as many as there should be.