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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hernacki

If you’re consistent, do you really have a “little” mind?

Woman wearing earphones, jogging by a river with a bridge in the background in early morning light.

You might have heard this before: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Since it was written by the great American thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, people often use it as a way of justifying their inconsistency.

“Sure, I’m inconsistent,” they say. “Doing my daily work, sticking to a routine, and acting predictably is for small-minded people. I’m creative. I think big.”

If you’ve ever felt that way, I’m afraid you’ve let a change in one word’s meaning lead you astray. When Emerson wrote about consistency in 1841, the word referred to a closed mind, to a person’s refusing a new or different idea because it was “inconsistent” with their current thinking. To Emerson, that was foolish. In fact, the actual quote is, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds….”

In my years of coaching, I’ve seen some of my clients do great things: double and triple their incomes, build new businesses from scratch, resolve major conflicts in their lives. These people all differ in ages, experience, talents, and abilities. They have almost nothing in common, except this: they are CONSISTENT.

My clients who succeed most dramatically are those who put in their work, every day. They’re the salespeople who make their calls, the writers who sit down and write, the financial managers who do their research. Every day.

You can't build a business today. You can't write a book today. You can't lose ten pounds today. But you can do all the little things that go into building a business, writing a book, or losing weight. Do them every day, consistently, and in time your business is built, your book is written, your pounds are lost.

So don't focus on making the big score, hitting the home run, getting the huge win. Instead, just be consistent. Show up and give it your best effort every day. That's enough. That's a lot. In fact, that's what miracles are made of.

Consistency is the not the hobgoblin of little minds. It’s the hallmark of great achievements


Phun Phacts  Exercise physiologists classify skills as “open” or “closed.” An open environment is one that is constantly changing and is being controlled partly by someone else, like a ping pong game. The brain has to constantly adapt.   A closed environment is stable and predictable, like running on a treadmill. By combining open and closed, like choosing the “random” option on your treadmill, you make your exercise time worth a lot more with almost no more effort.


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