My dog. An empty-headed but lovable Britney Spaniel got run over. I was 12 years old. His hip was broken, and I was heartbroken. Specks and I were buddies. We had spent many sun-drenched summer days together, scouting and fishing a mile or so up or down the creek that passed through the woods behind our house. “There’s an outside chance,” the vet speculated, “if you keep him caged for 8 weeks, he might make it.”
I promised my dad I’d do it all, clean his crate, feed and water him. I’d do it all, but like many 12-year olds, in two or three weeks my promise and determination began to fade. I helped with some of the cleanup, but the majority of the caretaking fell to my dad. As a result, my dad saw to it that I learned from my experience with my buddy Specks, a clear understanding of the power and effect that both “consistency,” and “inconsistency” can have in our lives.
As I continued through middle school and into high school, I reflected on my goals and the aspirations of those around me. I noticed there was always a premium placed on consistency. Top students were consistent with their studies. Top athletes were consistent with their training. Nearly everywhere I looked I found that consistency served as a key source of support for development and growth.
For most people, a broad definition of the word “relationships” often includes family connections and simple friendships between people. For my wife and I, in our Relationship Coaching business, the word “relationship” more accurately implies a romantic or sexual connection between people. In our business, we are exposed to a greater measure of human trauma, challenge and grief than most people. In the course of those interactions, we have learned that the most essential element in successful relationships is trust.
We’ve seen that trust-building is an investment based on repeated exchanges of honest empathy, care and truth between people. Consistency provides the building blocks and pillars on which trust rests.
In my earlier understanding of consistency, when my buddy Specks was run over, I saw consistency simply as a necessary discipline for successfully attaining school goals. As I’ve evolved, I’ve learned that consistency serves as an essential source of support for emotional development as well. And even though consistency may rest in the shadow of trust, long term successful loving relationships would be impossible without it.
My dad’s consistency provided many more sun-drenched summer days for me and my buddy Specks. As a Relationship Coach, my challenge to you, is to create more sun-drenched summer days with those you love. Make a promise to yourself, today, right now, that you’ll be more consistent with expressions of empathy, care and truth toward those most important to you.