Routine is key to achieving success. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell makes the argument that you need to spend at least ten thousand hours (10,000) at a particular skill to become a freak; a phenomenon at it.
Ten thousand hours! That’s roughly three years (if you put in ten hours a day consistently) of dedication to that singular thing. Several counter-arguments have been raised in opposition; particularly that the theory makes no allowance for talent or prodigies.
But I digress.
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Routine is a part of life, of our everyday living. The way we dress, the way we look, talk, think, act, and eat- even the way we fight, have sex, relate, communicate, learn, and worship. Almost everything we do is routine-bound.
Consider the effort put into learning something new. Or even something as routine as exercising. You have to get up daily at a particular time of the day and do the same thing you did yesterday. It’s the same with going to an office; sitting at the same desk day in day out, good day or not, cracking jokes with the same people, for the most part, doing the same thing you did yesterday.
Even in the entrepreneurial environment, routine is still king. You have to plug in and repeat yourself over and over again. The only thing that changes is the faces. But the pitch, the sales talk, the costumes, meetings – everything is pretty much routine.
If that isn’t the definition of ‘boring’, I don’t know what is.
Examples of people who applied discipline
Consider Serjey Karjakin who learned to play chess at the age of five and became an international master a month away from his twelfth birthday. How many hours of training do you imagine would have gone into his profession? Have you considered Serena Williams, a professional tennis player ranked number one in single women’s tennis a total of eight times? How about Ludwig Van Beethoven, who composed what is considered arguably his greatest work; The Ninth Symphony after he had lost almost all his hearing? How do you imagine these people got to where they are/were? By wishful thinking or merely by talent?
Routine builds the muscles, internally or externally. Stephen King, one of the greatest writers to ever live says he writes about two thousand words per day. Apart from the fact that it would take a really fast typist roughly an hour of doing nothing but typing, to punch two thousand words on a laptop; those would be two thousand words of pre-written prose dictated to the typist or copied from text. Writing directly from the imagination would take a lot longer than that.
As we have always emphasized here, discipline is the only way to get anything done.
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A bad example of routine
People may want to argue over the point buttressed here with the quote which states: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. Without reading well, you might think that it implies that routine is insanity. But this is what the quote actually means; people in an area do not like akara, whether you sell it for ten or five naira; whether you put fish or eggs or corn beef into it, they still will not eat it. Because they do not like akara.
But the discipline you applied into preparing your akara; waking up early, washing and grinding the beans thoroughly, getting the mix equation right, knowing just the right shade of brown – in short, the discipline and dedication you put into it can and should be applied into something else. In fact, putting that much time into learning how to make akara guarantees you’ll be a professional at it. Becoming successful at it however is determined by a combination of different things.
A Good Example Of Routine
Consider another example- this time of a 100 meters sprinter. How does he prepare to win? Does he run today and party tomorrow? Does he spend some time on the track and spend some time getting drunk while preparing for a race?
Too many times we have seen what happens to self-indulgent artists and celebrities. People who had incredibly careers ahead (or behind them), and yet lost it all because they just had to take one more drink, one more drug, and so on, as opposed to sticking to what brought them the fame and success in the first place.
I read someplace that “Sometimes all you need is to get up, dress up and show up. The rest will take care of itself”.
Routine- Do something over and over again, and you become really good at it. “And if you’re really good at something, never do it for free”.
Or so The Joker says.
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Photo Credit: BBC