The Secret to Success

The Secret to Success

Do you want to know the secret to being strong, healthy and wealthy?

Do you ever wonder how you got weaker, sicker and poorer?


The answers to the questions above are the same.  It is “CONSISTENCY”.

Really?  Can it be that simple?  It can be, but history tells us that we seek a complex solution to a complex problem.

Take Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor who worked at the Viennese Maternity Hospital, the Allgemeines Krankenhaus, between August 1844 and March 1849.  He proved that doctors were responsible for the spread of the deadly puerperal sepsis (commonly known as childhood fever) through unhygienic practices.  He prescribed hand washing in a chlorine solution before examining the next mother in labour.  This sounds like common sense now but at the time, a decade before Louis Pasteur came up with the germ theory of disease, it was too simple a solution for such a deadly problem.  Semmelweis’s esteemed colleagues rejected him and his solution and continued to kill thousands more mothers and children through their ignorance.  Semmelweis, for his efforts, was committed to a state-run asylum where he died in 1865 at the age of 47, decades before hygiene was established as common practice.

“Consistency” is the “hand wash” of the 21st century.  It is too simple, or most likely too boring, and is quickly rejected for more exciting solutions.  We don’t want to know that wealth is accumulated over time.  We dream about making that one big deal that will set us up for life.  We don’t want to know that to maintain good health requires vigilance and discipline over a lifetime.  We just want the quick fix, lose 10kg in 2 weeks program.

Let’s look at the consequences of consistency.

Consistently spending more than you have, month after month, will eventually bankrupt you.  Seldom is there a single catastrophic event that results in poverty but many small, almost imperceptible, events that happen on a regular and consistent basis.

Consistently eating and drinking more than you need, month after month, will eventually tip the scale to obesity.  Nobody has ever become obese by eating one single large meal or drinking a single super-sized soda.  The weight creeps on over time with many small, almost imperceptible, increases.

If consistency got you poorer and fatter, it stands to reason that consistency will be the key to its reversal.  Granted there needs to be some intervention, but without consistently applying sound financial habits or sound nutritional habits your fortunes will not be reversed for long.

The National Endowment for Financial Education cites research estimating that 70 percent of people who suddenly receive a large sum of money will lose it within a few years.

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles analyzed 31 long-term diet studies and found that about two-thirds of dieters regained more weight within four or five years than they initially lost.

These are examples of effective interventions with consistent application of poor financial or nutritional habits.

This isn’t as grim as it appears.  Let’s restate the research a little differently.

The National Endowment for Financial Education cites research estimating that 30 percent of people who suddenly receive a large sum of money will still benefit from it in years to come.


Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles analyzed 31 long-term diet studies and found that about one-third of dieters maintained their new weight for years to come.

This shows that with effective intervention and sound financial or nutritional habits applied consistently, success is within reach.

This also shows that the process is more important than the goal.  I am not saying goals are not important just that they are symptoms of the process and thus the process is paramount.

Most people revert back to their old habits once they have achieved their goal and quickly lose the gains they made.  If the focus is switched to the process then the gains become permanent through consistency.

Take preparing for the StrongFirst Level 1 Kettlebell Certification.  You need to prepare your body to endure 3 days of kettlebell practice and at the end be able to perform the swing, get-up, clean, press, squat and snatch techniques to standard.  In addition to this be able to perform 100 snatches with a snatch size bell (with some exceptions this is a 24kg bell for men and 16kg for women) in 5 minutes.  For most people to achieve the required strength and conditioning to pass this course it takes somewhere between 6 and 9 months to prepare.  For most people once they have passed the snatch test they don’t do it again until they need to recertify (and then have to prepare all over again for this).  These are folks who prepared for a goal and once achieved quickly lost the gains they made.  If they had consistently done all the tests every week or fortnight starting the week after achieving them they would maintain their conditioning with limited effort.

The famous US wrestler and coach, Dan Gable, must have been speaking about consistency when he stated that “If it is important then do it every day.  If it’s not important don’t do it at all.”

This is how we improve, little by little through the consistent application of sound habits.  Focus on the process and not the goal.

About the author:

As a Movement and Strength coach, at Generation Strength in Somerset West, South Africa, Shaun Cairns, Master SFG, teaches his students how to consistently apply correct movement and strength habits to their daily lives.  Without this being intentional entropy will set in.

If you are interested in learning how to get consistency to work for you and not against you then drop Shaun an e-mail at

Quote to ponder.  How does this relate to different aspects of life and not just finances?

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.  He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it”  Albert Einstein

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