I suspect you would be hard-pressed to find many people who would argue, or debate, the truths behind Zig Ziglar’s insightful words of wisdom about habits and their related consequences. We know poor eating habits over time will likely result in poor health and ineffective study habits will likely result in poor grades. We know careless spending habits will likely result in debt and/or underfunded retirement accounts, and poor time management habits can prevent us from spending time on life priorities including time with people we love.
Of course, the opposite of the negative examples above is true as well. Good eating and exercising habits result in better health and longer lives. Good study habits create a higher probability of good grades. Wise financial investment habits can create a wonderfully comfortable retirement; so on and so forth, you get the point.
Please reflect for a moment on the habits that are shaping your life. I ask of you these questions; “Are the most impactful habits of your life intentional or accidental? Deliberate and purposeful, or by happenstance? Are you living and thinking intentionally?” I suspect many of us are completely unaware, at least consciously, of habits which could be limiting our success, both personally and professionally.
Key Point #1 – Our habits are shaping our lives and relationships, for better or worse.
Key Point #2 – While we can choose our habits, we cannot choose the consequences associated with those habits. Every choice has consequences. Every habit has consequences. Always! (As parents, this was a principle my wife and I made as a cornerstone of our parenting philosophy. Almost every time our teenagers left our home, one of us would say, “Choices have consequences, make good choices.”)
Key Point #3 – Habits can be behavioral (brushing my teeth, eating, exercising, saving money, etc.) or intellectual (how we think, react, respond to others, make decisions, even how we respond to our emotions). So far, I have used mostly behavioral examples in this missive. I submit our “thought patterns and thinking habits” are also extremely important in shaping our lives.
Key Point #4 – Most of us do not choose our habits or our behaviors intentionally. We either allow habits to form accidently and/or subconsciously without much thought; or we create habits deliberately and intentionally. Successful people choose their habits wisely and intentionally!
Key Point #5 – Our attitudes and reactions to life events can also become habitual. Someone way smarter than me once taught me that our attitude is nothing more than “our habit pattern response to life”. When something good happens, we respond out of habit. When something bad happens, we respond out of habit. Unfortunately, most of us don’t deliberately choose our reactions, behaviors, thoughts or attitudes intentionally.
Have you ever noticed that some people complain about everything almost every single day;
- If it is a blue-sky day, they point out the forecast is for rain, and will probably thunderstorm.
- If they won a free car, they might complain it needs gas, and oh by the way, gas is expensive.
- If their spouse brings them flowers, they complain about the money spent or, they prefer yellow roses, not red.
Perhaps, complaining, has become a habit for them! Others begin to describe them as having a “bad attitude”. Unfortunately, the sad reality for these people is they can’t see how this negative habit is damaging their relationships and limiting their success. People don’t want to spend time with them, work with them, or maybe even be married to them. To make matters worse, they blame their attitudes on others, their parents, spouses, past experiences or even the government.
Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
Becky has often described a research study done exploring why twin children of an alcoholic father chose drastically different paths in life. One was immensely successful in almost every aspect of life. The other followed his father’s footsteps into a life of broken relationships, depression and substance abuse. When asked why each of them ended up where they did in life, both adult children gave the same exact answer; which was: “With a father like mine, how could I not turn out the way I did?” I submit they made different choices… one made intentional choices about his life, the other did not.
Let’s go back to Zig Ziglar’s quote; “When you choose a habit, you also choose the results of that habit.” I agree wholeheartedly and, at the same time, submit most of us are not choosing our habits or our attitudes, at least not intentionally. Rather than shaping our habits, we’re allowing our habits to shape us!
What habits are you allowing to shape your life and relationships? Are your habits limiting, or promoting your success in life? Someone once told me habits cannot be changed, only replaced. What habits need replacing in your life? When will you begin intentionally creating more productive habits in the way you think, and the way you behave?
“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.” – Benjamin Disraeli
“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” – Albert Einstein
And, as always, how will you lead differently, or better, this coming week?
Do you know someone who might benefit from this weekly leadership minute? If so, please feel free to pass along the subscription link below:
Have a great week!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”