Scott Postma

A blog about the Great Books, the Craft of Writing, and Human Flourishing.

The Enemy of Failure

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Consistency is the enemy of failure!

Anyone committed to taking small, intentional steps over a long period of time will succeed at their craft or project.

Boston Celtics forward, Larry Bird, wasn’t “a natural” at basketball, but he loved the game, so he committed to shooting free throws every day at 5:00am.

When he was traveling, he shot free throws at 5:00 am.

On the mornings after a big victory when the rest of the team was hung over from celebrating, he shot free throws at 5:00 am.

Playing his entire professional career for Boston, he won three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards.

Earnest Hemingway wrote a minimum of 500 words every day. Come hell or high water, as he used to say, he wrote 500 words every day. Hemingway published a few books you might have read.

Charles W. Eliot, former Harvard University president, said a liberal arts education could be obtained by reading for just 15 minutes a day from a collection of books that could fit on a five-foot shelf.

Challenged to live up to his statement, he compiled and published a 51-volume anthology known as “The Harvard Classics.”

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, wanted to improve his spiritual life after he was converted, so he committed just 5 minutes every day to reading his Bible and 5 minutes every day to praying. His consistency paid off, as his influence will affirm.

It’s hard to lose weight, but anyone can lose 50 pounds in a year by just making healthy choices every day and losing just one pound each week.

Explosive bursts of energy thrown at a craft or project in sporadic attacks is less effective than consistent plodding in small increments. Think “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

The key is determining if the craft or project is something you love enough to dedicate every day to, even the days you don’t feel like it.

Three Reasons

There are three reasons why consistent steps over a long period of time is the most effective way to succeed at your craft or project.

First, you touch the craft or project more often. By touching it more often you stay in touch with it at the deepest level. Touching it every day affords you the ability to spend the time you have actually working instead of reviewing and reacclimating to where you left off the last time you touched it.

Second, your creative juices stay full. When you’re in touch with your craft or project you see how everything in our life relates to it and ideas will often come faster than you can assimilate them. And surprisingly, success will start making guest appearances when you least expect it to.

Third, consistency allows you to work without the pressure of making every second count or else. Because you’re in touch, even your bad days are often better than your good days when you’re hit and miss. In other words, you can have good days and bad days, and it’s okay, because you will accumulate a lot of days, and most of them will be days of effective progress.

What is the craft or project you wish you could pursue but have put off because you’re afraid of failing at it?

Do you want to play a musical instrument? Sing? Write? Get an education? Play a sport? Crochet?  Be a chess master? Become the best in your field or industry?

Is it something you’re willing to dedicate 15 or 30 or 60 minutes to every day? Then why not start today?

You know the old proverb: The best time to plant a fruit tree was two years ago. The second best time to plant a fruit tree is today!

H.W. Longfellow reminds us: The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.

We are the enemies of success; consistency is the enemy of failure!


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About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho. He loves teaching the Great Books, writing and blogging, and collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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3 Replies

  1. Our greatest enemy is in pictures we see reflected in all of the mirrors I have ever looked into and it took me nearly a half century to realize it. Those days have long since passed.

  2. Dinshaw Dastur

    To me a Pastor must be exactly like JOHN G LAKE—in charity as well as in such strong faith. Today’s Pastors are lacking in both–sorry to say that. To be precise JOHN G LAKE gave away all his millions in his time to obey GOD and went on his mission to South Africa with about $ 5.00 along with his wife and 5 children.—ALL BY FAITH. You don’t hear such stories today.

  3. Gilead Rose

    Needed to hear this. Thanks, brother Scott!