It takes discipline to build Tiny Habits

There are habits we use every day, good or bad, they’re habits.  It’s relatively easy to make the time to do something that has to be done.  For instance, I am training for The Jimmy Fund Walk on September 21st.  I know that I can’t just lace up the sneakers on Sunday morning and walk 26.2 miles without building endurance.  So I block out time on my schedule to be sure I am setting aside time to walk.  As the walk gets closer those time blocks can be 4-6 hours.  Habit established.

But it’s the other habits that I want to build, like blogging on a regular basis.  I read an article by Jennifer Chang “Tiny Habits”.  Jennifer sites BJ Fogg, PhD, and his research.  The road to any desired behavior is broken down into three baby steps:

1.  Start small.  A tiny step toward the desired habit you are trying to build.  Because it’s small your more likely to actually complete the behavior, regardless of how motivated you feel.

2.  Find an anchor.  This is the step I can really grab on to.  Fogg suggests to choose an existing routine in your life to act as a trigger for your new behavior.  For instance, when the phone rings, put your headset on and start moving while you are talking like walking, one-leg squats, use hand weights and so on.  He has a few more habits that will make you chuckle like doing push-ups in the bathroom after he does his “business”.

3.  Celebrate immediately.  Thumbs up, tell yourself nice job, whatever gives you a few moments of feeling good about what you do.  Small celebrations reinforce the desired behavior.  I’ve read it takes 21 days to firmly establish a habit.

But I am adding a fourth step:

4.  Discipline.  It takes discipline to build a habit, short and simple.  So here is how I will build a disciplined weekly habit of blogging.

I will start writing once a week for no more than one hour.  I will anchor this behavior to early Monday morning  preparedness.  While my clients are wrapped up in kicking their business off for the week, I will in turn be doing the same.  I will celebrate my weekly habit by looking in the mirror (that is behind my desk) and saying “nice job Jeannette, you finally kicked your ass in gear!”.

What kind of tiny habit do you want to begin? Find an anchor, celebrate and be disciplined.



First you have to row a little boat

A friend gave me a book to read many years ago entitled “first you have to row a little boat”.   I guess you could say it’s a book about life’s  lessons and in it there is one resounding statement that I have used often in my personal and professional life.  I quote “We may like to think we are born knowing all we need to know and that what we don’t know will come to us through happenstance.  But if we want to learn, truly want to learn, we must break through the protective veneer of false pride and allow the master of the past and present to enter our lives.”

I cannot count the many times I have experienced those who are unwilling to listen and perhaps learn.  Whether it is an adult or a child, the first inclination is often to defend.  When we learn to have the first inclination to be listen, that’s when learning truly begins to unfold.

“first you have to row a little boat”  is a book I highly recommend.

Email freedom

Email used to be our best friend.  Well, I suppose it’s still a good friend, but it sure has it’s downside.  I don’t know about you, but my email box is filled to the brim with unanswered emails and unread newsletters that I keep refusing to delete because soon I will have the time to read them.  But, time slips away and next thing I know another email or e-newsletter has come in.

Sure, we’re pretty good at responding to things that take priority but it’s the lower priority mail that clogs up our inbox and mind.  So I will tell you what I did – I spent about 30 minutes unsubscribing from newsletters that I get – some I never even opted in to.  And then, I deleted all those emails that I said I was going to get to.  I set up additional rules so more of the emails go to folders instead of my inbox.  This was quite freeing; its almost been a week and I still don’t have regrets and haven’t missed a beat on correspondence.

I searched around to see if there were any good links on this subject.   I liked watching Mark Achler, Entrepreneur and Redbox Executive speak regarding email efficiency and effectiveness.  While he doesn’t hit the topic on the head, he has a few other videos that I thought were interesting.  All of them are quite short.

Free yourself from the chains of email, be wild and crazy – delete, unsubscribe and become more effective with your time.

Finding leadership in the game of golf

I have been playing golf for the past several years, not without a lot of angst I might add. I’ve really been dedicated for the past two years. I made a commitment to myself that I would golf at least one time each week. For some that might not seem like enough, but for me that was more than I was doing previous to this commitment. If it weren’t for the fresh air, exercise and social aspect, I would have given up. But the lure of the game brought me back week after week. The vision of hitting the ball consistently was what kept me motivated.  Despite lessons, advice and vision -it just wasn’t happening.  But, last week it connected. I hit the ball consistently throughout the game.  No, it didn’t go a great distance and yes, the short game needs a lot of work – but I connected to the ball for the first time!  Was this a fluke, will the old swing haunt me again?  So I played again and guess what?  Once again I consistently connected with the ball.  Yabadado!

What does this have to do with leadership?  Having a vision and not losing sight of that vision despite current reality.  That’s it, plan and simple.

Check out Tom Watson’s explanation for the perfect golf swing.

Leadership doesn’t always begin with a capital L

Leadership.  A lot of buzz is happening around this word lately.  Workshops, books, even colleges are now offering a master’s degree in leadership.  As I read recently, leadership does not begin with a capital L.    Leadership is demonstrated in your home, community, organizations you are a member of or in the workplace.  For me leadership is a mindset – stepping over the line to make a difference. Read more

Playing like the pros

I love watching football when the home team is playing. This past week NE Patriots did a great job of bringing home the win. I got to thinking about why they pulled it off this week and not some of the other weeks, so I asked around. It seems a lot had to do with the players playing their position, and they played it right from start to finish. Not unlike what we want employees to do. Do what you’re supposed to do from start to finish. Sure there are a lot of variables that are also considered, but if employees get it right, the owner has a pretty good shot at a win for the customer.

You don’t have to be a “leader” to demonstrate leadership skills

It’s pretty confusing at times to discern what leadership means and where it falls.  Traditionally leaders are thought of as those who run something – a group, public or private organizations and so on.  Strong armed, being the smartest and rewarded for the greatest gains.  But most of us know now that’s old school thinking.  For an organization to truly grow and prosper requires all employees to demonstrate the skills of leadership for the job they have been hired to do.  Priorities, actions and attitudes.   While the owner/CEO of the company has to orchestrate their employees around complex goals and gain alignment, if employees do not take up the call then leadership falters throughout.

Practice what you preach

Well it’s been several weeks since I posted my first blog and I’ve failed miserably at staying on top of this new communication tool.  It is quite obvious I don’t practice what I preach.   Not unlike many small business owners I work with, we get caught up in the day to day activities of running our business.  So, as I talk with them about 2012 goals and what they hope to achieve – one of mine is going to be posting on a regular basis!  I look forward to 2012 and the opportunities ahead.

It all starts with a vision

When you plan a vacation you have a vision of fun and breaking away from daily tasks of life – right? Some people plan to the extent that leaves little time to relax, others make no plans at all, but still there is a vision for what they want to achieve during their time away.

Well, the same goes for running a business. If the leader of the business does not have a vision for what they are trying to achieve, then it’s just day-to-day, one foot in front of the other.  A leader is somewhat like an explorer, going places where others haven’t gone and questioning the decisions along the way to be sure he gets to where he wants to go.

But a leader cannot achieve the vision of their company alone, it requires bringing others along the way.  Just like when a small child grabs their father’s hand and says “Daddy, daddy come quick see what I have found”.  Daddy goes quite willingly because he loves and respects the child.  The principal remains the same for a company.  Employees must respect and support the leader to gain buy-in of the vision.

Lastly, if you’re on vacation and want to bring the family or friend  to visit a special place – a secluded beach, a famous museum, a spectacular mountain top, you must provide the direction and communication to gain the excitement and agreement from others.

Spend the time to crystallize a vision, talk with those around you and get them excited about it too. Everyone working towards the same goal will bring that vision to life.  Vision.  Alignment.  Execution.

Creating a company vision