Consistency vs Intensity

I write about my struggles with consistency. And I write about my ability to work with intensity.

Here’s a razor (I know what a razor is, thanks to a brilliant ebook by S – she has made it available for pay-what-you-like here) – As you know more, you know more about more things that you dont know anything about, let alone more.

Like a few nights ago, I was standing outside a hotel lobby waiting for an event setup to happen (ISTG I love this business of events and I wish I could do large format, large scale setups that need hundreds of people) and I realised (epiphany happened!) that I dont like to do things. And I have never liked it, ever since I was a child. More on this in subnote 1.

But then, I realised, I like to manage things. And managing things essentially means I need to manage the egos and fears and desires of the people whom I work with. And thankfully I am at a place in life where I dont have to “do” things no more. I can get by merely managing! And I think I am good when it comes to understanding people and all that. Let’s park this as A. We would come back to it.

The other thing that I’ve known for a while is that I am unable to do things that need a day-to-day grind and consistency. Things like writing every day (even though I wrote and published for 100-odd days straight while in lockdown), working out every day, running social media pages, staying on top of accounts and numbers (my father at the age of 68 can tell me outstanding balances of scores of suppliers that we work with at C4E and I have a hard time remembering how many people do I work with!) and other things that require consistent, daily grind.

I have really tried hard to maintain streaks and do things on a regular day-to-day basis, and yet, I have failed. I can blame it on my formative years at an events agency where most work was strictly on a project basis and once you were on a project, you could forget everything – you know marathons and sprints? And thus you didn’t have to work on things that needed daily rhythm / cadence. And after a project was over, you had so much downtime that I could write a damn book! Let’s call this B.

Now, if I club A and B (my inability to do things and my inability to do things on a day-to-day basis), I am staring at a very bleak future! I mean, the world nature rewards consistent work over long periods. Intensity gets you only so far. It’s consistent small efforts that compound into an avalanche of magnanimous results!

The funny thing is, I am aware of this. And yet I have not been able to stay consistent. I know I am getting old and health-wise it’s only downhill from here on and yet I don’t work out. I know that to grow my business and reach my ambition, I need to work on my personal brand and yet I refuse to create content every day. I know that I need to see my team do well and yet I am not consistent with my training.

In fact, I’ve gathered an entire folder of images that extol the virtues of consistency over intensity. And yet I am unable to move my ass on it. Here –

So yea. Despite the awareness that I need to over-index on consistency, I am unable to be consistent. Of course, I continue to be very good when it comes to being intensive about work and life and all that!

On consistency, I have tried everything – keeping trackers (that look like minefields with gaping holes in those), making large bets (that I’ve been losing since I was a child), taking help from accountability buddies (that have grown frustrated with me and have abandoned me), calendaring things (that I plainly skip) and what not.

And yet I haven’t been able to do this!

And there are some people that I know that are so good at showing up EVERYday that they are on 1000s of days of streaks of performing tasks. In this TED talk by Duolingo founder, I found that there are 3 million people that have a streak of more than 365 days!

365. Days.

Let that sink in.

EACH DAY of the year, some rain, shine, hail, storm, they have done their bit on Duolingo. An app.

WOW! And how!

So yeah that. My struggles with consistency.

Over and out.

PS: Subnote 1
While editing this piece, another epiphany happened.
That on my personal brand, I was doing it all wrong – I was talking about marketing, writing, startups and all that. However, that is not who I am! I am a tinkerer, a mover of things, an experimenter, a trier and all that. I like to do things – often without agendas and thus I need to create / share content about these trials and all that (rather than marketing). More on this in a few days. Meanwhile, over and out 🙂

Marathon vs Sprint

If you need to build a deliberate life, you need to know which of the two (consistency or intensity) drives you. I try and find out about myself.

When you run, you can do it in two different ways. Both may seem similar but they differ widely. These are Marathons and Sprints.

Of course, both need passion, training, instinct, and superhuman effort. And while the things you need in the two (the technique and the methods and the skills and all that) may differ from each other, both demand you to put in the hours and the practice.

To illustrate the two, I will lean onto the two GOATS of running – Kipchoge and Bolt – to make a great example. Both of them need teams – probably more so in Kipchoge’s case (pacers etc.) – but they are individual personification of achievement of a team.


The man who has become synonymous with marathons is Kipchoge. While each of his achievements needs a tome of its own, the most incredible feat is his sub-2-hour marathon.

Marathons need tiny steps and consistent progress over a very very long period of space and time. And because it’s repetitive work over and over again, these get boring.

The keywords are consistent, drudgery, long-term, and boring. And in one word, marathons require consistency.


The GOAT of sprints is Usain Bolt. If you want an idea of his greatness, see this.

Unlike a marathon, a sprint needs a burst of energy that you typically expect from a rocket ship. It starts with a big bang, requires you to give all you’ve got, and you have to last till you tide over the finish line. In the case of a rocket, the momentum takes it ahead. In the case of a runner, they end their sprint after a few hundred meters. You blink and you may miss it. It exhilarates the runner (and the audience) and is over before you know it.

The keywords are fast, energetic, and exhilarating. In one word, sprints require intensity.

So, why talk of Marathons and Sprints?

Well, in life and in work, you can operate as a marathoner or a sprinter.

You could build the marathon muscle that will help you work for at least the next 10 years – you know, perseverance, patience, long-term thinking, politeness, relationships, delayed gratification, tiny successes, and all that.

Or you could develop the sprint ability to live each day like it’s your last. Things like high-risk-taking ability, love for games of odds, acceptance of impending doom in the wake of failure, a tinge of irrationality, and all that.

Most people I know of who’ve been able to build a great life for themselves and others around them have been marathoners kinds. Yes, there are a few who’ve taken the fast road to riches but then they are few and far between.

And if you are like me (an ordinary person with average chances), your odds of success would become far far better. I mean look at me. I’ve been on it since at least 2014 now. So 10 years. And I still don’t know where I’d end up.

However, like most advice on the internet, there is no one size fits all. While the idea of being a marathoner is true in general, there are two exceptions.

A/ Are you driven by (and built for) intensity? Or consistency? There is no easy way to find this out. Look at what you’ve enjoyed in the past – Short bursts of focused work or long spells of meandering? Ability to obsess deeply over a problem for a long time or quick fix solutions that are fast and easy? The ambition of making an impact over a large parcel of humanity or living the life of a free person on a beach?

B/ Does the work you do need intensity or consistency? For example, if you are in the business of films, you could give one superhit and then do nothing. And come back after a few years. In your lifetime you would probably make 20 films. No, I do not mean you would not work on your craft while you are not making films. It means that you will immerse yourself in a piece of work and forget about everything else. Any “project” business would require intensity – you know, website design, art, books etc.

On the other hand, if your work is to operate a cinema hall, you need to open the hall every day and sweep it and place the new films and sell tickets and all that. The only way to make it big there is to continue working for years and scale the cinema hall into a chain of screens.

These two questions would help you figure out where you want to be and how you want to live. And once you know what you are suited for, I think creating a deliberate life around that should not be tough.


PS: This is not one of my best posts. But I had to post.

PPS: While I was writing this, I realized that I need to find work that allows me to get into medium-term sprints (say 6 months) and then allows me to switch off for the next 6 months. I think it boils down to consistency. Look at Ankit – mad respect for his consistency. I don’t even deserve to mention his and my names in the same sentence!

Of course, I don’t have it in me to be consistent but I can be patient AF. And maybe that could be a place where I could live at? You know, regular sprints for a long time!

What do you think?