I’ve long been a fan of Ben Bergeron, more for his thoughts and philosophies of running a CrossFit affiliate than as coach to some of the world’s best athletes, although he’s really good at that too!  I listen to his podcast regularly; Travis and I attended his Affiliate Excellence seminar in Chicago last fall and we’ve implemented many of the things we learned there, some of which you’ll have noticed and others that are more ‘behind the scenes’.

I read this post and thought it was worth sharing as it builds a little bit on what Travis wrote yesterday about learning the basics.

“Consistency > Intensity

Mechanics, consistency & then intensity. This is what we learn at all Level One Certifications. It’s the training philosophy we try to instill in the members of our gym. But it’s as much a powerful principle for how you life your life & run your business as it is as a prescription for fitness. The writer Simon Sinek likes to say, “Intensity is going to the dentist twice a year, as prescribed. But if that’s all you ever did, your teeth would fall out.”

Intensity is sexy. More than that, it’s easy to measure. That’s why we like it so much. We can wrap our heads around short, unsustainable bursts of intensity better than we can a low trajectory toward some distant horizon. The intensity feels like we’ve done something. The consistency requires faith.

Intensity is a single, year-end review with each of your coaches. Consistency is taking one of their classes every week & offering feedback every time.

Intensity is waiting until a member quits before learning why they’re unhappy. Consistency is a quarterly check-in meeting where you talk with them about their goals, fears & what they need from you. (And then acting on what you learn.)

Intensity is calling your mother only on her birthday.  Consistency is calling her every Tuesday on your drive home from work.

We have two fundamental principles at CrossFit New England. First, that we are in the relationship business, not the fitness business. Second, that the single most determining factor in macro health & happiness is the strength of a person’s relationships. If you agree with those, you can see why consistency matters more than intensity.

Consistency is what builds relationships, because it’s what builds trust. Trust leads to vulnerability, which matters because only when someone is vulnerable do they open themselves to the possibility of change. Change is another word for growth, which is another word for progress, which is another word for evolution. (Hedge fund magnate Ray Dalio writes: “Evolving is life’s greatest accomplishment and it’s greatest reward.”)

Change is scary & most people will avoid it. Consistency matters because without the trust it engenders you cannot inspire change.

Writer Steven Covey refers to it as the Emotional Bank Account. It works a lot like a regular bank account does. You build wealth by depositing more than you withdraw. You make deductions when you are inconsistent with someone with whom you have a relationship. When you break a promise, lie or gossip about them, you reduce the balance. As Covey writes, “Our most constant relationships, like marriage, require our most constant deposits. With continuing expectations, old deposits evaporate.”

Only when you’ve built up a surplus with somebody do you have any real trust.

The benefits of intensity are almost always temporary in the absence of consistency. The value of a seven-day meditation retreat diminishes if not followed by a daily practice of mindfulness. The grand gesture embedded in that act of intensity might feel like progress, but is as much an exercise of avoidance. Doing the hard work of showing up every day, of dedicating yourself to a process, of trusting that your patience & dedication will pay off is much scarier. It’s also more effective.

Mechanics, consistency, & then intensity:

Brushing your teeth once accomplishes very little. Only brushing twice a day, every day, will have an impact.

No single day of training will shed those pound or reduce a member’s dependency on medication. Only showing up five or six times a week, every week, will do that.

Giving a piece of feedback won’t make your coach see movement more clearly. Only sustaining a dialogue that never ends will unlock their true capacity.

Then, every once in a while, go to the dentist, commit yourself to a 30-day nutrition challenge, or sit down with your coach for an hour-long review.

You are what you repeatedly do. You are not what you do occasionally.”

I challenge you to be consistent.