I remember laying in the hospital on the makeshift chair-bed next to my wife. She had delivered our youngest son that night and was briefly resting between feedings. I stared at my phone in the dark room. Something had been stirring in me. I wanted to read the Bible more than ever before in my life. I found an app, downloaded it and proceeded to read some familiar sections.
Taking heed of that calling to read scripture led to a profound change in me. I began reading daily. I started a plan provided by a mentor and worked my way through the entire Bible a handful of times. I began sharing verses with a few friends. Then more friends. Then family members and even on social media. Since that very first night in the pitch black hospital room the habit to read scripture daily has made a significant impact on my faith and life. What habit do you need to start today?
In Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”, he discusses the importance of what is known as a keystone habit. Keystone habits may seem insignificant at first but looking back on them can show a domino effect from making one distinct change. Here are a few habit changes you might consider instituting:
1) Start Small to Grow Big: In several cases Duhigg along with other habit experts explain the importance of small wins. A small win could be tying your shoes and making it out your door for a walk instead of binge watching TV. It could be starting each morning in prayer with your spouse for your family and the collective impact of your day.
My greatest personal example of this has been in my diet; over the years I have made small changes that have added up to nearly 100lbs in weight loss since playing college football. It started with logging my meals daily. Then swapping out meats for fish or veggies (most of the time). I now start each morning by only eating fruit until noon and have traded a lunch meat sandwich for a healthy salad each day. Find the small wins that work for you and build upon them daily.
2) Turn Your Negatives Into Positives: People often ask me how long my commute is. Outside of having to make it home to coach my kids in sports I rarely pay attention to it. If I’m completely honest I actually LIKE my commute. Rather than getting stressed or complaining in traffic I use my car as a rolling library. I love listening to audiobooks on personal growth, faith and leadership.
No time to workout because of your work schedule? Stash a pair of sneakers under your desk for a fifteen minute walk. Wake up ten minutes earlier and do a few rounds of pushups. Paul wrote most of the New Testament from a jail cell. David learned how to slay a giant while protecting his sheep from wild animals in a field day after day. Find ways to use your current surroundings and environment to introduce positive habits.
3) Surround Yourself with Committed Partners: One habit I am constantly working on is listening and learning from those around me. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a wonderful men’s small group and a mastermind group of similarly motivated Christian leaders.
Even if you can’t find mentors in real life, search for great virtual ones. Seek out great leadership podcasts (I love Craig Groeschel’s Leadership Podcast) and books. Ask someone you admire to meet and talk and ask them how they got to where they are today. Always remember you learn a lot more by listening than talking.
4) Create a new habit loop: Sometimes it’s hard to break a habit that is detrimental to you at work or in life. Starbucks, seeing the need to train their employees to better handle angry or even hostile customers began using the LATTE method: Listen to the customer, Acknowledge them, Thank them for the feedback, Take Action, and Explain what you’ve done to handle the issue and improve. While certainly helpful in the work environment this can be useful in any leadership role. By training yourself to respond rather than react you’ll be more likely to improve than ignite the situation.
These are just a few ideas but spend some time thinking about the habits in your life that you need to add or change. You’ll look back and see great results from your keystone habit changes. Why not pick and start one today?