Consistent Reliability vs Stellar Inconsistency: The Battle of the Next Generation
Our readers need to be made aware of the distinct differences between consistently reliable and inconsistently stellar performance. That sentence made us all cringe a bit but there it is. As millennials, we here at FJJ have some unique perspective which we have already touched on a couple times, and for this topic age is extremely relevant. My goal in writing this post is to give every person the potential to recognize the trade-offs between these two modus operandi. Once an understanding of these characteristics is discernible, it will be possible for you to adjust how you live your life for better results overall.
If we can allow me to treat this like a sociology course for a moment, I will first create some definitions for the following terms:
being consistent is key, being a performer is not.
- You are at work always within +/- 10 minutes of the same target time every day. Whether this time is early or late it doesn't matter, you are still consistent.
- You put in the same amount of time at work every day and every week. Doesn't matter if it's 30hrs or 60hrs.
- You get X number of tasks accomplished every week.
- You have a predictable thought pattern. Bad vibes or good vibes? Who cares, as long as they are consistent!
- You are consistent with your tone and type of input in company meetings. Good info, no info, keep quiet, whatever. You just keep it the same.
- You dress in the same manner at work every day.
- You drink coffee everyday or not at all.
Some things help with being consistent. A fixed home life and routine will more likely than not yield similar results at the workplace. A standard amount of traffic on your way to work helps you remain predictable. A reliable car goes a long way towards being a reliable person.
Being a performer is key, being reliable is not.
- You are extremely capable and find yourself handling tasks much faster than expected.
- You have to ask your manager for more work regularly.
- You show up whenever you show up.
- You dress however you feel on any given day.
- Some days you binge on coffee. Other days maybe an energy drink or tea. Water. ich
- You have a nightlife which is not repetitive. ie you go out on any night of the week on the reg. Whenever the mood suits you really.
- You pride yourself in being a better performer at work and probably some other places as well. Gym perhaps. Dance floor anybody?
- You will sometimes work long hours. You will occasionally knock off early because of various reasons. Maybe you even decide to work extra a few days to get a day off.
Being a top performer is difficult and tiring. Often it leads you to exhaustion or periods of reduced performance. Maybe a few days off for allowed recuperation or as a reward for a job well done from your employer. Of course people will claim, "I never perform poorly and I'm always on my A game" - and they may be right. But that isn't the point of this article. If you always perform a certain way, that would land your performance squarely in the "consistently reliable" category. It's not an argument, it's consistency.
Lets face it, every working person in the world will identify with both categories. I am not going to give examples here because they would be redundant. The idea is that these concepts exist and have effects on the outside world. Below I have created a table of how a manager, a peer, and yourself would view these types of traits:
Now that I have made this chart, quite a few things are popping out which are fairly obvious when you consider the context. It should be clear to most that doing the same thing every day, week, month, onto forever becomes extremely boring. I do not advocate this as the go-to plan to live your life. Even the most stringently repetitive person will take vacations, have night plans, hobbies, etc. At a personal level the world will seem more exciting and interesting when there is less routine.
Your peers can almost be summarized into one sentence: Don't rock the boat too hard. Generally you should try to be interesting and be able to hold up your end of a conversation in any business setting, but if you are quiet and reserved I doubt anybody will hold it against you per se.
For the young go-getters out there this point needs to be solidified: Your amazing performance does not make up for all inconsistency in other areas. Generally, your manager will forgive quite a bit in light of your great capability. But therein lies the problem, because your performance is necessitating forgiveness of some kind, and that is viewed as a negative aspect no matter how you rationalize things. The trick here is to realize that we are all far from perfect, and that it wouldn't hurt anybody if you made your life a bit more consistent. It might seem boring to you at a personal level, but give it a shot. Being young and a hard worker is one of the great gifts you get in a lifetime, and by all means live it your own way.
In the title of the article I said this was related to the battle of the next generation. I stick by that statement. Ever wonder why older people get paid more than youngsters? They are generally more consistent in the things they do. We all know that age doesn't increase your ability to work faster/harder. However by the time you have been in the same business for a decade or two you realize on a subconscious level that being consistent is easier to do than to force sporadic bursts of creativity through extreme effort. The relationship between consistent performance and age is tried and true, so listen to me when I write that striving for these facets of adulthood will make you money. Period.
If I am allowed a final thought, I would say that we should pursue excellence and capability but not at the cost of consistency. Now that you can visualize these traits, balance them and balance yourself while you're at it.