Could Creating a “Streak” Be The Secret To Big Time Success?

I met Terry Lancaster yesterday. He’s an energetic, fast-talking Southern boy from Nashville Tenessee.

Terry is the author of Better, Self-Help for the Rest of Us and a guest on The Word.  We had a blast. Terry is a passionate dude who wants to change the world. Terry has this; anything is possible attitude that just jumps out at you. A self-admitted caffeine addict, it’s hard to argue with him as it’s hard to know whether it’s the caffeine or him.

In his excitement, Terry dropped a powerful concept on me during the show, a concept I had never heard of thought of and had never considered.  He talked about the idea of using “streaks” to create long-lasting, predictable habits and success.

In our interview, Terry opened up about a streak which he’s involved. He runs a mile a day, every day.  One day he just said, “I’m going to run a mile a day.”  On the surface, this sounds rather innocuous, but it’s what he said next that triggered me to understand the power of streaks. He said his streak was 522 days long.  

Yes, I said 522 days long. That’s unbelievable. He’s run 522 days in a row. He’s passed the point of no return, and that’s the power of a streak.  In other words, the cost of “breaking” the streak is substantial.  Think about it, if you’ve run a mile every single day for 522 days, why would you ever want today to be the day you missed it?  Why give up on all that, why break the streak? And it’s in this emotional connection that streaks are so powerful.

The power of a streak in driving us to keep going the longer it continues is tremendous. The current record is 49 years, and the record holder has run after knee surgery, on a cruise ship during a hurricane, and more. When we create a streak, and it grows, we’ll do anything to keep it going.

This concept of streaks is powerful.  It creates an incredible sense of ownership.  When we’ve committed to something to the point it becomes a streak, it increases our ownership and pride in the effort. Every day the streak continues and grows, our resolve to keep it going increases. We try harder and harder to keep from breaking it.

Streaks do something else; I find fascinating. They are great measures of progress. When we start counting a streak, we measure our activity and our actions, not necessarily the results. Measuring our activity allows us to see how much work, and effort we put in to get a result. This makes it possible to see the cumulative effect of our efforts. When we can see our effort, it feels good. We take pride. We’re like “Damn, I did that?”  That’s powerful.

Terry’s been running for 522 days. That’s a hell of an accomplishment. He knows that if he misses just ONE day, those 522 days are lost for good, and he has to start all over.  It will take him almost 18 months just to get back to where stopped. Is missing one day worth it?  NOPE! The streak, in itself, becomes the motivation.

Creating a streak can add incredible power towards our ability to get things done and drive the results we want. Imagine creating a streak for every major area of your life.

  1. Work
    1. Make 50 sales calls every day
    2. Read a book a month every month
    3. Write a blog post/LinkedIn Pulse article every day
    4. Get to work 30 min early every day.
  2. Home
    1. Kiss and compliment your spouse every day
    2. Read to your kids every night
    3. Put your phone away from 7-9 every night
  3. Health
    1. Run a mile a day
    2. Do 25 pushes up every morning
    3. D0 25 jumping jacks every day
    4. Go to the gym four times a week, every week
    5. Bring lunch to work every day

There are so many areas in our lives where streaks can be an asset.  Find a streak and start one.

Once you’ve started your streak the most important thing to do, to keep it going, is to create a visual representation of it. Buy a paper calendar and every time you do what you say you’re going to do, put an “X” through the day.  You want to see those “X’s” start adding up.  Don’t underestimate the power of the “X.”  The more “X’s” drawn, the more motivating and habit-forming the behavior becomes.

We all like the sense of accomplishment, so imagine 10, 20, 50, 100, 1,000 “X’s” on your calendar. Imagine how good that would feel. Imagine how proud you’re gonna be, as the “X’s” pile up.

If your looking for a practicle, measurable and unique way to make change in your life then start thinking about starting a streak.  It could very well be what get’s you streaking to greatness. 😉

Get streaking and I don’t mean to the quad.