Many people think that persistence is the path to achieving one’s goals, and on some level this is certainly true.
It’s unfortunate however the many confuse being persistent with being inflexible or stubborn. “Staying the course” won’t work if that course doesn’t have the ability to ever lead you to your destination. Being consistent has not value or benefit if you it means consistently being wrong.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Context vs Consistency
The world is fluid and constantly in motion, very few things are static and unchanging. It is important to realize that context is more important than consistency. What worked for you in the past may no longer work for you today. For example, if you try to use a 50 year old body the same way you utilized a 15 year old body, you will get completely different results. It’s important to understand that you have to act and react in ways that are appropriate to the present situation, rather than simply relying on what worked before.
A Brave New World
Business methods and practices that predate the internet and social media haven’t lost all their value, but they do lack scope and are not suited to a world of “real time”. Consumers now get information in real time and have access to much more of it. They also have a new unprecedented ability to share information including their opinions and experiences for brands, products and services. Word of mouth is no longer a small or localized process, it is not instant and global. It is important to understand this and leverage it to your advantage or it will be used to your detriment.
A real world example of this is a UK bookkeeping business I cam across recently who in a few short years have transformed themselves from traditional bookkeepers visiting clients premises or receiving in boxes of documents to dealing with their outsourced bookkeeping and accounting services online. This has been made possible as acceptance of cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping has taken hold and as software companies such as Xero and Sage have made this option secure and affordable.
Many fear change and things they don’t quite understand. The best way of dealing with fear is often to confront it and neutralize its power of you and your circumstances. Gaining more knowledge and being open to changing strategies and directions is vital here. The barrier and resistance to change is usually a matter of comfort or being very invested in a current course of action.
Too Big To Move
In the case of companies many are too large or rigid to stay nimble and adapt to realities of a more rapidly changing market. While consumerism and its growth has allowed many business to thrive, it has the potential to hurt anyone who get’s “too big to move”. Markets now shift very rapidly as a result because consumers are more fickle and brand loyalty is much harder won and easily lost in the age of the internet and social media.There is also the issue of not watching for trends and shifts in consumer demand.
Kodak is a good example of this, based on the fact it practically developed (pun intended) the entire film industry. Because of there over commitment to film and their lack of belief in the growing popularity of digital cameras, they were late in developing and patenting competing technology for it and establishing a presence in that market. As a result of being able to shift in direction with their competitors they lost everything, while lesser smaller competitors such as Pentax and even Fuji are still thriving.
Changing Direction When Needed, Not For Change Sake
Change can be good, but it is not without it’s dangers. As stated earlier the context of the change and the motivation behind it is what really matters. Changing simply for the sake of being “fresh” is an unnecessary risk if there is no indication that the change will improve the situation considerably or that the situation even requires any change to be made at all. If something is working, and there is not way to qualify or quantify the value of a potential change, its probably not worthwhile.