focus and consistent (personal version)

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life directions so many“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya.

You killed my father.

Prepare to die!”

“Stop saying that!”

<the Princess Bride>

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“Why are we so full of restraint?

Why do we not give in all directions?

Is it fear of losing ourselves?

Until we do lose ourselves there is no hope of finding ourselves.”

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Henry Miller

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Ok.

Life, or at least success in life, is inevitably tied to some version of focus and consistency. Now. In discussing this we need to acknowledge there are two sides to the focus & consistency coin – one side is you and the other side is how people view you.

indecision coin tossMaddeningly, sometimes, this coin may have a high value on one side and an incredibly low value on the other side <despite the fact one would believe a coin would have the same value on both sides>.

Your side. You may have a sense of consistency and focus with regard to how you think and where you are going in Life … I say ‘may’ because it may be a 10 lane highway and you wander along that highway. That said … you feel like you have some focus and consistency.

Oops.

The how people view you side. Other people view your changing lanes and changing speeds as inconsistent unfocused behavior <most people prefer you ‘staying in your lane>.

This means you are actually doing well, you are doing the right things to be a successful interesting well rounded person … and yet you may actually be penalized by the people around you. Penalized? Suffice it to say that consistency may have the highest value it has ever had in the history of the world so if you don’t exhibit it you lose value in people’s eyes.

Why? Well. Two reasons.

First.

Today’s world is structurally hostile to inconsistency. And, yet, <maddeningly> inconsistency is what makes us grow and be enriched and adapt in positive ways.

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rangers unimportant versus important“Life itself consists of phases in which the organism falls out of step with the march of surrounding things and then recovers unison with it—either through effort or by some happy chance.

And, in a growing life, the recovery is never mere return to a prior state, for it is enriched by the state of disparity and resistance through which it has successfully passed.”

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John Dewey

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Inconsistency means you are falling in and out of step with the march of things surrounding you. Yup. Whether you like it or not we are not always in sync with what is going on around us … and … well … those moments out of sync may make you, and everyone else, uncomfortable … but they are Life & character shaping moments.

Regardless. Personal change confuses people. It confuses them because they don’t want to have to work that hard … they want you to remain unchanged so that they can build some expectations which inevitably streamlines their own behavior. If you are inconsistent it forces them to … well … work.

I am not suggesting people don’t want to work … it’s just that they want to CHOOSE what they will work on and, well,  your changing is not their choice. Therein lies the strange but true paradox of consistency in Life. As you become personally enriched thru some inconsistency … at the same time … you are devalued in in the eyes of others as they view your inconsistency.

More becomes less.

What an unfortunate Life formula. My main point? Today’s world is structurally hostile to inconsistency.

nuance word

Second.

Today’s world is structurally hostile to nuance. Nuance & subtlety not only doesn’t sell it invokes ‘space’  <or a perceived lack of clarity> in which others are more than willing to place something <and very often something you did not envision or want>.

Now <part 1>.

You may argue that nuance has nothing to do with consistency but I would ask you to take a step back and view this thought from the perspective of “what people see & hear” versus “what you say and do.” In most people’s minds ‘true’ consistency contains no nuance.

It cannot.

Nuance begets some sense of inconsistency in what you may mean … and in today’s world those minuscule spaces created by nuance are immediately filled and actually widened beyond their initial nuance small space into chasms of vitriol, doubt, second guessing, judgement and anything & everything except possibly the true facts behind the original nuance.

Now <part 2>.

People are not stupid. Once someone realizes nuance is a precursor to pain, anguish and character assassination … that someone is smart enough to decide to be consistent <no nuance or subtlety> and offer an unending stream of meaningless drivel <or say nothing> so that there are no gaps or spaces for others to take advantage of.

Consistency is safe. It many not be particularly illuminating … and it certainly seems to encourage a calculated blandness … but it is … well … safe. Today’s world encourages safe. Today’s world is structurally hostile to nuance.

Ok.

All that said.

Let me be clear about consistency … and inconsistency … and you being your best. Today’s world wants you to be your best … but maybe not quite all the time.

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“On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”

George Orwell

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Inconsistency takes work.  More work than consistency. And the work is found in the coin I described at the beginning — inside-out <decisions and attitude and behavior> as well as outside-in <as noted earlier … it makes other people work and they take it out on you … and you have to deal with it>. It also takes some work because although we all claim to know where we are going and what we want we kind of make that up as we go. What I mean is that most of us kind of want to be the best <or our best> … but maybe not all the time … and most of us kind of know what we want <but it can lack some specifics> … which all means we have to be adapting here & there.

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“Looking back, I didn’t lose my way.

I never knew where I was going in the first place.”

William Chapman

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To be clear.

Successful people are generally deemed successful in hindsight <less easy to judge within the experience>. Their ‘path to success’ looks clear and consistent and focused in that hindsight. And, yet, it is most likely their inconsistency which gave them the little bursts of energy to pass others on their way to success. Those little blips are overlooked or mis-defined as focus or consistency when viewed as historical activity.

They never knew where they were truly going just that they wanted to get somewhere and most times that looks like a fairly consistent, focused progress path.

Sure.

Maybe I am over valuing the blips of inconsistency … however … I would suggest that a little inconsistency can create that little tweak which can make, or unmake, your world … shit … THE world. Those little inconsistencies may have been representative of the little windows of opportunity one gets on occasion.

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“It only takes a tweak to make the whole world new.”

Terry Pratchett

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Anyway.

Tweaking your world, adapting to Life, inevitably means some inconsistency. And … as noted earlier … the world is hostile to inconsistency.

unattainable focusThat makes it very very difficult to embrace some aspects of inconsistency.

I imagine my real point is that all you really need is a blip or two of inconsistency on occasion <or on a consistent basis> to tweak your world.

And some inconsistency can actually make you personally happier but make the people around you a little less happier.

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Some other thoughts I have shared about consistency and inconsistency:

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http://brucemctague.com/libre-et-independante

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Plus.

Just being consistent for the sake of being consistent is foolish.

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http://brucemctague.com/foolish-consistency

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Written by Bruce