One of my clients got me involved in Sports World, a non-profit organization that speaks to students about making positive choices. In preparing for our second effort in my area I’ve recognized how powerful their message is even to business.
Sports World message is simple. You are not born a winner, you are not born a loser, you’re born a chooser.
If you look at your business and your personal success toward any goal or priority it’s all about making the right choices. In many cases the failure to achieve a priority is about a lack of planning. We simply fail to choose One Thing that is most important.
How proficient are you at making the right choices on what to focus on? How good are your people at making the right choices every day on what they should focus on? Do they even know what they should be concentrating on?
Seventy Five per cent of organizational change initiatives ultimately fail! [John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail” HBR, Jan, 2007]
There is powerful information and practices in the book Switch on how to lead change. We must direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path.
We are creatures of habit. Will and discipline are overrated. It’s difficult to achieve anything no matter our intentions and desire. The meeting rhythms, priorities, and metrics that are the backbone of Strategic Discipline provide your people with the tools to develop habits that drive performance. They make it clear what choices they should be making.
How long does it take to establish a habit? If you’ve heard twenty one days as I had, prepare for disappointment. Be Excellent At Anything indicates that no credible research supports this. The time it takes to establish a habit depends upon the complexity of the new behavior, the level of motivation and the frequency which you practice it.
Believe it or not fully 95% of our behavior occurs out of habit. That’s the value of practice and training. Building experience in basic skills allows release of cognitive resources for other higher functions. When you see someone improvise and do so at a high level whether it is in sports, music or any skilled endeavor it is because it’s emerged from a deep rich foundation in their basic skill that have long since become automatic and unconscious.
What’s the first step in building a ritual? Only take on one or two at a time. With the limits of willpower invest only that which can endure and not be diffused across several new barriers. This is why when starting the Rockefeller Habits and specifically Strategic Discipline we recommend the executive team begin the meeting rhythms, priorities, and metrics first before cascading them down to the next level of management. Bite off only what you can chew!
What’s the next step in establish rituals for your business. We’ll discuss precision and specificity and how to incorporate this into your daily priorities next blog.