At Hexmos, we uphold three primary virtues - Curiosity, Audacity, and Consistency.
I strive to expand my skills and knowledge continuously. Over the years, I acquired my taste towards a few - programming, history, music, and philosophy. Occasionally, I invest my time acquiring knowledge and experimentation on an impromptu basis. There is no specific goal, no final destination for any skills; any "progress" leads to temporary contentment. Conceptually, the intentions sound very pleasant, but practically, not so much.
In August 2021, I started performing simple strength training exercises to improve my current fitness levels. My physical therapist gave me a basic exercise plan of 20 minutes using an app to get started. I carried on with the exercises for about four weeks without missing. Inevitably, I skipped a day due to increased office work. Consequently, I did not resume my workouts due to the context switch.
A couple of months ago, I sought to revive my musical instruments skills. I bought a piano from Amazon for about $150 and started basic tutorials using SimplyPiano on my iPad. I began my stream of completing 2-3 lessons every day for 20-30 minutes and progressing with basic chords. Unsurprisingly, I missed a couple of days for occasions I don’t recall after a good stretch of three weeks. Post this incident, I randomly started skipping days and eventually stopped. The app kept reminding me every day, but I ignored the notifications until my iPad was out of battery.
These are only a few failed attempts out of many. Why was I unsuccessful in carrying forward my intentions? - lack of Consistency in efforts.
Human beings default to effortless paths, often being lazy. We avoid the challenging parts despite our internal agreements on potential benefits. It is ingrained as part of human evolution and hard to overcome. Only a handful of individuals can endure the pain to achieve their aspirations.
How can we be consistent given the limitations? It is an enormous effort for an individual. What practices can be incorporated to give us a sense of context and keep pushing continuously?
"Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god." - Aristotle
Humans are social creatures after millions of years of evolution. The presence of a social context can foster humans to be more responsible and consistent.
The above graph is a classical visualization of Compounding used in the financial domain. You don't observe any significant growth in the first half (0 to 30). But in the second half (30 to 60), the graph spikes upwards exponentially.
"The first rule of compounding is never interrupt it unnecessarily" - Charlie Munger
"Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world; he who understands it, earns it; he who doesn't, pays for it." - Albert Einstein
Compounding is an effect of consistent behavior. In theory, most of us agree on the benefits of reading books. Regardless, I hardly finish a book in a year, a massive stagnation of knowledge.
Our ongoing efforts of Consistency
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not." - Albert Einstein
Here are some of our efforts at Hexmos that manifest Consistency:
1. Daily sessions
We spend a minimum of two hours every day for a collaborative working session. There are no breaks or no planned exceptions such as weekends or holidays. Why? First of all, in a two-hour contiguous block, one can produce meaningful work. On a scale of weeks and months, two hours a day is not sufficient to build our organization. Given our limitations, we are biased towards expending maximum time and energy.
"Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years" - Bill Gates
Despite individual misses, the above visualization reflects our group’s Consistency.
2. Daily reading policy
It is our group's policy to read every single day. Every group member should read for at least 15 minutes and post relevant insights. We compensate for any misses whenever possible. The knowledge acumen benefits the individual as well as the group.
Occasionally, I skip reading due to unavoidable circumstances. However, the social context enables me to resume the streak the next day (with compensation, of course). At times, I do not have any motivation to spend the effort. Despite this, I try to allocate the minimum time and pull through. Just the thought of potentially screwing up the social context, I would write the post even if it is a burden on rare occasions.
3. Daily workouts
Fitness and mental health are critical areas some of us wish to focus on. Group members should spend a minimum of 10 minutes every day and submit the proof in the Workout log forum. It is an opt-in program for the members.
"Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity" - Bruce Lee
4. Weekly writing
Some of us started to spend two additional sessions on weekends to focus on our writing skills. Producing meaningful content from our knowledge base is a challenge. It may take multiple weeks to write and polish a single article for an individual. Still, we would produce 10-12 posts per individual in a year at this rate. High-quality technical documentation is essential for internal tools and public libraries. Django, for example, has one of the best documentation available.
This article is a result of our writing program.
5. Building teams and leaders
We continuously invest in building teams, coaching, mentoring, and establishing a trust-based environment. Definition of leadership is recursive - "leaders create more leaders." For the first 4-5 years, we must build and develop our core leadership. At later stages, we can afford to take more significant risks, work on more complex problems, and sustain a lot of mistakes due to compounding.
Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho Corporation explains the definition of leadership in an informal discussion - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT_34kL_Gw8&t=214s
Building tools to promote Consistency
At the inception of our reading policy, we couldn't achieve near 100% consistency. We solely relied on mutual trust, motivation, and reasoning to drive each other.
The overall goal became simpler - "keep the dashboard green."
For example, the GitHub commit heatmap plays a significant role on developers psychologically to write code every day. Regardless of initial low-quality output, putting consistent effort created thousands of useful open-source libraries and projects.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
We plan to build a generic self-service tool for tracking and visualizing an arbitrary goal. Members would have the ability to set goals and keep each other on the journey. Enumerating a few possibilities:
- Learn piano for 15min every day.
- Write for 1 hour every week.
- Walk four days a week for 20min.
Consistent effort is one of the efficient ways to achieve compounded results. A social context facilitates the actions of individuals, raising the group's overall strength.