Posted 26 March 2014 by Chris Farmer
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The habits of highly effective leaders
We tend to be creatures of habit. Habits are automatized actions. We all tend to have habitual ways of doing things.
Your habits allow you to do many complex things, without really thinking about them. Habits allow you to do things on "automatic pilot".
You develop habits over a period of time, during which you learn to automatize the action and then, from then on, you "just do it without thinking". This process saves your brain the effort of having to concentrate 100% on one task, so you can split your focus and do two things at once: such as drive the car on the motorway and think about the upcoming meeting, at the same time.
So habits are your brains way of automatizing behaviours in order to make you a more efficient thinker.
All this makes habits sound good. But it depends on the habit.
- If you habitually smoke 40 cigarettes a day, that is not so good.
- If you habitually lose your keys, that is not so good.
- If you habitually lose your temper, that is not so good.
Some habits can ruin your chances of success. You may know a person with an annoying habit of speech or mannerism. I know a chap who habitually swears, at times, and in places, where swearing is definitely not, the proper thing to do. But for him, swearing is a habit, and I don't think he is fully aware how often he swears.
On the other hand, some habits are beneficial. You habitually drive on the left side of the road. That helps a lot to avoid confusion.
The trick is to become more conscious of your habits. Become conscious of the way you habitually do things and ask yourself, "Does this habit help or hinder? Does this habit add or detract?
Should I try to rid myself of this bad habit and replace it with a better one?
This is a good thing to do.
Rid yourself of bad habits and replace them with better ones
For example, I am currently in the process of ridding myself of three bad habits and trying to replace them with better ones, as follows:
I am trying to stop myself from putting things down and losing them. I am trying to replace it with the habit of putting things back in their proper place, after I have used them, and so not losing anything.
Losing things has been a constant bad habit since the dawn of time. My wife never loses anything because she has a place for everything.
So I am trying to mimic her good habit of putting things back in the right place.
New habit 1 is to put things back in the right place.
I am trying to eliminate the habit of overeating. Most of us eat before we are hungry. We eat whenever we feel like it. Consequently most of us are a bit overweight. As you get older, you need less food. But we eat more food. So it is important not to eat just out of habit. Eat consciously and in a planned way. As a matter of conscious habit, I watch my food intake. New Habit 2 is to watch my food intake.
I am consciously trying to improve my habitual language. It is important not to be sloppy in language. It is important to word your messages carefully. Many of us are too sloppy in the way we express our meanings, so I am careful with my words. I am careful not to blurt out anything, without thought, and thus create a misunderstanding or upset.
Habit 3 is to be careful with language.
Not all habits are good for you.
Some habits are bad for you.
Rid yourself of bad habits and replace them with better ones.