Do you think that doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity? Try telling that to Andy Dufresne. Over the course of The Shawshank Redemption, Andy builds a library, earns more than three hundred thousand dollars, invents a new identity for himself, and escapes from prison – all by patiently doing the same boring things day after day. The only difference between him and the average person is that he is remarkably consistent in his work.
If hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, then consistency is the means by which hope becomes reality. It is through the power of consistency that small actions turn into big results. Let’s look at how Andy built a library to see this principle in action. He starts by asking the warden for funds, and when that fails, he turns to the State Senate.
It seems like a hopeless task. He writes a letter a week for a whole year, then two. Pretty soon he’s up to 200 letters. Then 300. And once he reaches his 312th letter, this happens.
As Andy notes, it only took six years. Only. Can you imagine saying that about any endeavor? It only took six years to pay off a debt. It only took six years to become a doctor. It only took six years to get a book published. There are plenty of goals that won’t be attained overnight, but they can happen given enough time and consistent effort.
Imagine if Andy had given up after five years of letter writing. That’s a lot of time to spend on something that has produced absolutely no results. But he persevered and kept doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. And by golly he got what he wanted. It was just a matter of wearing down the people in power and proving to them that his will was stronger than theirs. He really showed them who’s boss by writing two letters a week for a few more years until this happened.
The Power of Consistency
There are many lessons that can be gleaned from The Shawshank Redemption. The power of friendship. The power of hope. The power of faith. But the lesson that can be forgotten among all of the more prominent ones is the power of consistency. It took Andy 19 years to dig his way out of prison. He did it one handful of dirt at a time. People definitely remember the epic moment of him crawling his way to freedom and celebrating in the rain. But they probably don’t think of the short scene of Andy chipping away at his wall. The monumental moment of Andy’s escape was made possible by thousands of tiny efforts that didn’t amount to much when looked at individually.
Consistency looks boring and mundane from the outside, and it can even feel that way when you’re the one doing it. But if you have a goal that you’re working toward and the hope that you can reach it, it’ll feel like it only took a certain amount of time to get what you wanted instead of feeling like it took an eternity. Ten years is a small price to pay for building a library. Nineteen years is a small price to pay for obtaining freedom. What price are you willing to pay for something you really want? Are you willing to put in a consistent effort to make it happen? If so, you’ll get it sooner or later. You just have to begin with the end in mind and take small, consistent steps to achieve big milestones.
My Own Experience
I’m coming up on eight years since I published my first article as the Deja Reviewer. Since June 16, 2011 I have never gone a week without publishing something new. Sometimes, like last week, I’ve had to publish something short because I was in too much pain to physically type what I wanted to write on a keyboard. But most of the time I’ve been able to put my best effort into my work. As a result, I have published nearly 500 articles, some better than others, but all reflecting parts of me. Right now, it feels like it’s only been eight years since I started this website rather than feeling like that was a lifetime ago. And, God willing, I’ve got many more years of consistent effort in me to keep this fun thing going.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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