The Power of Consistency

'Without commitment, you'll never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you'll never finish" - Denzel Washington.

I will be taking some of you back (at least for me anyways) to University in this Statistics 101 crash course where we will talk about exponential vs logistic growth. These growth models are used in ecology to analyze population growth but can also be applied in statistics to analyze growth for a business. I will be applying this to life in the general sense of setting goals and reaching them. In exponential growth, a population's growth rate stays the same regardless of population size making the population grow larger and larger - almost kind of like compounded interest for those of you who have investments where the interest calculated on the initial principal also includes all of the accumulated interest of previous periods of a deposit. As such, the overall principal or population grows exponentially over time. Very slow at first but sky rockets toward the latter years.

In logistic growth the growth rate gets smaller and smaller as the population approaches the maximum and plateaus - this maximum is usually determined in nature by limited resources. Exponential growth on a graph has a "J" shape and logistic growth produces an "S" shape. "So where are you going with this Natalia?" In previous blogs I discuss about the realities of the world we live in - we are now globally connected in greater ways than we can ever imagine, exposed to so much information, we are always on the go and under the false impression that we can all be famous and millionaires instantly without putting in the work. If we're not careful, this fast paced lifestyle can give way to unhealthy instant gratification without valuing the process and unhealthy comparison games (check out my blog here!) both of which I have fallen to.

My mom sends my sisters and I at least 2-3 videos a day most of which I do not watch because I don't know enough Chinese to understand the video but there was one video that really resonated. It was a video of Denzel Washington speaking at a convocation at the University of Pennysylvania where he gave one of the most inspirational speeches relating goals/dreams to discipline and consistency.

I learned the value of consistency very early when my mom put my sisters and I through the Royal Conservatory Music program in piano. I wanted to quit almost every year but somehow my mom successfully pushed us to obtain our ARCT Performers. I had a schedule and a system when I practiced my techniques, classical pieces and then made time to play pop pieces as a reward for getting through the grueling first hour of mundane practice. Little did I know, this mundane daily practice over years was what made this average piano player look like a child prodigy - countless hours I tell you! Practicing over and over again allowed me to develop agility, muscle memory, new technical skills and application.

We struggle with consistency. This could be partly due to the fact that we are all such busy bees that we don't have "time" to work out but we want those guns of steel by the end of the week - we've all been there done that myself included. But I really believe that the root cause is in our instant gratification culture. We become impatient, we lose interest and want to go to the next "shiny" thing that appears to give us faster results and we give up too easily. We don't even give ourselves the fair chance to see our full potential. We want results and we want them NOW. If we're presented with option A where you could either have 3 million in your bank account this very second or option B, where you could get a single penny that doubles in value every day for the next 31 days, most people will choose option A. If we think about it according to the exponential growth, this penny will actually triple by day 31 to $10 million but it is very hard to see this at the beginning. Lasting change does not happen quickly - without hard work and time we do not teach and train our minds and bodies how to develop something for the long haul. With consistency and a change in mindset, we can change all this - a very hard lesson I am learning everyday!

1) Quick fixes are just that - QUICK. They are short term and quick to vanish. If you want to make lasting transformations in any aspect of your life you have to let go of your short term results. Long term change and improvements does not happen overnight but we can change our direction.

2) Consistency doesn't equate to intensity. We are deterred when we see how much work we need to put in and this is normal. Look at your long term goals - now with direction what are the small steps you need to take to get there? SMALL IS KEY! 3 pages a day in the book you're reading. Writing 1 paragraph a day in the short story you want to complete. 5 minutes of meditation. For me it's 1/2 hour to 45 minutes a day of technical vocal practice at least 5 days a week - this was very very difficult in the beginning for me. According to the exponential growth model, practicing 1/2 hour 5 days a week will train my vocal chords to know what the right "feeling" is for me to properly switch between my registers - to develop clarity and strength. Becoming a student again is one of the best favour anybody can do for themselves! It may take me a little longer to break bad habits when I'm singing but I love to prove to myself that I got this - no matter how old! Super lucky to be taking vocal and theory lessons from the best vocalist in the city (Carmen Lucia - extremely grateful to have her teach me her expertise and do yourself a favour and check her out!)

3) Commit to developing habits that serves you and stick to them! Goal setting is a great motivator but too often when we see how far away they are from us we get discouraged and get stuck. Take myself as an example - my main nemesis is my voice and conquering confidence when I'm on stage. My goal is to develop a stage presence that allows me to showcase what I am vocally capable of. It's been 2 years since I've been in the music scene and I see a small improvement but not much. I do ask myself if I'll ever be able to sing confidently and powerfully in a live setting.

If I measure this goal by how many vocal cracks I make at each live gig (which is still quite a bit) by definition, I will still be a failure and have made no progress at all - this is completely self imposed. Instead, I decided to measure my progress by how frequently I can sing between vocal registers without cracking AND celebrating those moments! By sticking to my daily habit, every day over the next few months, over the next year and next few years, by law of exponential growth I will start to see greater improvement and I truly believe in it! But the key is I have to stick to this habit - perform as often as I can and practice every opportunity that I can and happy to say I am on track! :)

4) Value the process NOT the results. This will require time, effort and work ethic. It will be hard. But if you learn to value the process, you will fall in love and all of a sudden the once grueling work you didn't look forward to will no longer be an obligation or a chore. It will be engrained into your daily regimen and be an extension of you. The results will take care of itself once we've locked down on consistency.

5) Always reflect and readjust. We all slip up. Life is unpredictable and always changing. Your goals may have to be adjusted which will force you to see that you may also have to slightly modify your small steps to adjust to those changes. Consistently reviewing your progress is important to stay on track and to develop tools to combat those moments when you veer off track.

"So, keep working, keep striving, never give up, fall down seven times, get up eight. Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. So keep moving, keep growing, keep learning. See you at work." - Denzel Washington

Now time for my vocal and piano practice! :)

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