Consistency Gives Self-Discipline Its Power

Clipart of a business person with a briefcase running on an arrow pointing up and to the right, above a bar graph, illustrating the concept that consistency gives self-discipline its power.

Introduction

The day I turned eighteen years old, I ran away from a broken home and joined the U.S. Army which quickly straightened me out and showed me many things that improved my life. In basic training, the military taught me things that enhanced my being by learning to be disciplined and consistent, act with integrity, and more. I have carried these basic core values throughout my life, and they have helped me to become a successful project manager (PM). Two of the most crucial components of project management are discipline and consistency, as they ensure projects are managed in a way that leads to the intended results. A disciplined PM can effectively manage their team, deal with challenges, complete projects on schedule, and manage their time.

Consistency sets the guidelines and expectations you have of yourself, and you start looking for new ways to conquer your day. It means completing small steps that, over time, lead to larger successes. Consistency in your efforts leads to self-discipline and self-control, improves your overall personality, and builds momentum. When you are consistent, you have a sense of accountability and direction that translates to progress.

Discipline and consistency go hand in hand. Without discipline, it is hard to be consistent in your actions, and without consistency, the mental muscle of discipline will weaken over time. Consistency and self-discipline are really two sides of the same coin and are the key components behind every successful person, especially a successful PM.

Organizations

Consistency is a steppingstone to higher levels of maturity for individuals and organizations. One of the promises of organizational project management is increased consistency, repeatability, and reliability of project management. It is one of the fundamental drivers of developing organizational practices. Every organization has an optimal level of maturity; if they surpass that level, they will have major problems. They can turn consistency into a bureaucracy that is self-defeating, like hindering innovation and having too much red tape, duplication/waste, and conflicting goals. This all results in having less freedom to act or make independent decisions which means you are now risk-adverse. Therefore, organizations must be careful and cautious to not turn themselves into a bureaucracy!

Discipline is the act of encouraging a desired pattern of behavior and is the glue that holds it all together. Most projects that do not meet their schedule, budget, quality, or function fail because the level of discipline shown across the organization is inadequate and reflects weak leadership.

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.

– George Washington

Summary

When you have consistency and self-discipline, your productivity increases significantly, and you are constantly motivated to just keep going, striving to do better every time. Consistency sets the guidelines and expectations you have of yourself, and you start looking for new ways to conquer your day. Once you gain the momentum, keep going! A good MPUG article to read that is representative of consistency and evenness is “How Risk and Quality Management are Interlinked” which stimulated me to write this article. Your thoughts in the comment section below are welcomed.


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Ronald Smith has over four decades of experience as Senior PM/Program Manager. He retired from IBM having written four books and over four dozen articles (for example, PMI’s PM Network magazine and MPUG) on project management, and the systems development life cycle (SDLC). He’s been a member of PMI since 1998 and evaluates articles submitted to PMI’s Knowledge Shelf Library for potential publication. From 2011 - 2017, Ronald had been an Adjunct Professor for a Master of Science in Technology and taught PM courses at the University of Houston’s College of Technology. Teaching from his own book, Project Management Tools and Techniques – A Practical Guide, Ronald offers a perspective on project management that reflects his many years of experience. Lastly in the Houston area, he has started up two Toastmasters clubs and does voluntary work at various food banks.
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