Updated: Jan 6, 2020
For a long time now I have had a healthy appreciation for the power of habit in my life, in the lives of others as well as in the lifespan of businesses.
I can’t say that I absolutely believe that what you put into something determines what you get out, but for the most part I am in agreement that what you get out of any endeavour strongly correlates with what you put in. The only challenge is that we are quite often completely oblivious to what exactly we put in.
Research suggests that between 40 and 60 % of our thoughts, actions and feelings is directed by habit. That’s a HUGE percentage of effort that we are not actively and/or consciously engaged in. It’s an enormous percentage of automated, habit driven process and we are often left counting the consequences.
Whether we are chasing an opportunity, maintaining a relationship or confronting a challenge, our habits will determine whether we succeed or not. Our goals, strategies, plans and networks can set us on a path and light the way for us but ultimately the things we do daily, from moment to moment and often mindlessly will produce results whether they are the results we want or not.
I recently came across the poem below and it stopped me in my tracks. Part of this poem echoed in my head for days even sending chills along my spine….’be easy with me and I will destroy you…’ and ‘those who are great I have made great. And those who are failures, I have made failures…”.
So habits are powerful. Undisputedly powerful. But how often do we understand or even know our habits, let alone comprehend their impact on our lives? Is there a case for creating an inventory of our habits? Should we be tabulating them under columns labeled good, bad, useful, resourceful, disastrous, keep, don’t keep, etc.? Perhaps a S.W.O.T. analysis relative to our goals would be most useful in understanding which of our internal resources are conspiring with us and which are conspiring against us.
Once we know this we can make decisions about change. We will know what to be more mindful and more deliberate about, and what to leave to habit. Vanquishing counter-productivity will not be the only result. With habits that serve us we may very well discover new opportunities and fortunes previously unimagined. A small dietary change like eating smaller portions may result in the desired weight loss. It may also create greater confidence and buoy you to pursue hobbies or a romance or a job you never thought yourself worthy of before.
Habits have too great an impact on our destiny to remain unexamined. It was Aristotle who famously said:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit”
WHO AM I?
I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half of the things you do you might as well turn over to me
and I will do them – quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed – you must be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done
and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great people,
and alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine though
I work with the precision of a machine
plus the intelligence of a person.
You may run me for profit or run me for ruin
it makes no difference to me.
be firm with me, and
I will place the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.
WHO AM I?
I AM HABIT!