Pieces of the Personal Effectiveness Puzzle, #7: Consistency is Critical

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 19, Issue No. 11a
March 1, 2021

By Dan Coughlin


Imagine walking into a restaurant on three different occasions.

The first time the entire restaurant was set up like an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. They only sold desserts. Two weeks later you walk in and it’s a fine-dining steak restaurant. And two weeks after that it’s an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet restaurant.

You are hesitant to recommend the restaurant to anyone because you have no idea what that person would get when he or she actually showed up.

The same is true with you. If you act like a chameleon and change who you are depending on who walks into the room, people won’t be able to recommend you for anything because they don’t what they are recommending.

Consistency Allows for Sustained Understanding

When you first get hired into an organization, other people are working to understand you. They invest time in listening to you and observing you. They are trying to understand whether you are introverted or extroverted, what your temperament is in most situations, and how you make decisions. They are working to discern your values, passions, talents, morals, and character strengths. They are interested in why you do what you do for a living.

In other words, they want to know you as a person. They want to know what they can count on from you. And the only way they can figure that out is if you are consistent.

If you are jealous, angry, frustrated, or scared, you can’t fake it for long. Eventually it shows up on your face. If you are mean-spirited, self-centered, selfish, and focused only on your own future career, eventually it’s going to come out in your words and actions.

You can’t fake your way to consistency. It has to come out of who you really are on the inside. So if there is something you want people to know about you and say about you behind your back, then be sure that you are consistent. If you say one thing about a project when one supervisor is in the room, and then you say the complete opposite thing when another supervisor is in the room, then the people who saw you both times will doubt your credibility.

You Can Trust Yourself

Not only can other people trust you better when you are consistent, you can trust yourself no matter how much pressure you are under at any given moment. Be the same person in every area of your life as a parent, spouse, friend, neighbor, employee, boss, customer, and community member. If you have eight different ways of being, how can you count on yourself?

If you cheat a little on the expense reports, don’t expect to count on your integrity as a parent. If you use intensely foul language with your friends, it’s going to be hard to keep it together in front of an impatient customer.


To thine own self be true. That was good advice when Shakespeare wrote it down in Hamlet 420 years ago, and it’s still good advice today. I would just add a few words:

To thine own self be true every day in every situation.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at dan@thecoughlincompany.com with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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