Preface: Thinking about force of habit will always remind me of The Riddle. Here is an update from a post of the same name I previously published on TalkingStory.org …and my updates will always trim shorter and be more on point over time, one of those Ka‘ana like good things!
This Archive Aloha is about your productivity and effectiveness, whether intentional or stuck on auto-pilot. It contains newer in-site learning/using links, and a template for peer-to-peer coaching.
I have attended dozens of workshops over the years, and when I narrow down their take-aways to those impact-full bits which have truly stayed with me, a now-yellowed handout is the first thing which pops into very clear focus in my mind’s eye. Yes, even more than all the handouts I give people for Managing with Aloha, for mine will somehow build on the certainty of this one.
I make sure this lesson is a part of every single class I do which specifically targets improving workplace productivity, an objective no workplace coach can ignore. If the lesson resonates with my students —and it always does— and if they choose to proactively believe in its magic, they will make it work in their favor. Everything else we set our sights on achieving will become so much easier as they reckon with their highly personal cause-and-effect behaviors.
It’s a riddle I received when getting my Ritz-Carlton certification as a 7 Habits trainer with the Stephen R. Covey Leadership Center back in 1995:
Who do you suppose this is?
“I am your constant companion.
I will push you forward to success or I will drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
80% of what you do, you might as well hand over to me and I will do it promptly and I will do it correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.
Show me what you’d like to have done, and after a couple of lessons, I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great people.
Alas, I am the servant of all failures as well.
All who are great, I have made great.
All who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine; but I do work with the precision of a machine and the intellect of a human.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I’ll lay the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you!”
“Who am I?”
I would love to give credit where credit is due for this, but it was on a plain white sheet of paper to keep us guessing without clue or distraction until the great reveal of the answer. I am not sure if it came from Covey (not then Franklin-Covey), The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where I was employed at the time, or Julie, the very smart Covey coach who gave it to me.
The answer, as you can more easily guess from the framing of my posting today, is “I am your habits.”
Those patterns are temporary though: They can be changed, and will shift when the waves return. New designs will emerge. And then there are those footprints…
Habits are powerful Human Magic.
Problem is that we tend to mostly think about bad ones like smoking, and biting our fingernails, or twirling our hair and not about the fact that there are exceptionally good ones too. Some are simple (Carry, and Use, Pen and Paper), but they make a profound difference in our lives, like biting your lip each time you are tempted to blurt out a negative statement, so you can catch yourself (Banish your Possibility Robbers) and say something more encouraging or nothing at all.
The best productivity tip I can give you, is to proactively create good habits that put you on automatic pilot in a good way, in an advantageous way.
- Take a cue from your dog or cat: For two full minutes, stand at the side of your bed and stretch every morning before you head off toward the bathroom to brush your teeth. Do it consciously for the next two weeks, and you will find you do it from now on. Stretching your muscles to wake up every limb in your body and gain more energy for the day will become the automatic pilot of how you wake up. You will be more alert.
- Tune in with Aloha: If it’s in your hand, place your smartphone face-down on a surface in front of you every time someone approaches you to speak with you (in your pocket works too), and you will focus on them, listen better, and never be thought of as a rude crackberry addict again. All good relationships and partnerships start “with Aloha.”
- Give yourself the gift of a day KA LĀ HIKI OLA: Calendar the 1st day of every month as your “Value My Life Day” and make it the day you say goodbye to the hits and misses of last month and imua, go forward, by choosing your value driver for the month ahead: Value Your Month for One — You. Accept no other appointments on Day 1: Make it all about you and only you, and commit to the value-driver you have chosen by planning the month proactively with intentional value-mapping.
Extra Credit in the Workplace:
D5M: Do the Daily 5 Minutes!
D5M is THE best habit a manager can have, bar none.
Revisiting the Daily 5 Minutes: Lessons Learned.
Mix and repeat. Slow down, study and savor. Be better.
Read over the Habit Riddle one more time.
Take inventory of your habits, and choose to create some good ones which can replace the not-so-good ones.
And here’s a tip: It is much easier to replace one habit with a better one as opposed to working on breaking one; the not-so-good habits can simply get eased out of the picture since they no longer have our ATtention —and thus our INtention (like looking at a smartphone screen instead of at the human being in front of you).
- Which of your own personal habits are the ones which ‘push you forward to success’ and which ones ‘drag you down to failure’?
- Which of your own personal habits are you ‘firm’ with, and which do you ‘go easy on’?
- Manage with Aloha: In the context of HO‘OHANA, which of your habits align with your personal mission, na ‘IMI OLA, and which circumvent it, or only play in the periphery (the lands of Procrastination and Low Priority)?
Better yet, enroll someone else in your goal and ask them to coach you.
An Exercise in Workplace Peer-to-Peer Coaching
Get a good friend or team member to partner up with you in answering these questions in the context of the work you do KĀKOU, together; you may find that you both want to work on the same thing, a great place to start, in pooling your efforts, LŌKAHI:
- What simple practices (like carrying pen and paper with you for remembering, and for better follow up) can help you make something stick in your habit-building?
- What simple practices (like the smartphone one above) can help you make something stick in your habit-building?
- If your manager offered to give you some help in grooming a new habit within your organizational culture, would you know what to ask for?
- Taking my cues from the riddle, I have categorized this post in Key 2: Worthwhile Work, and Key 7: Strengths Management. Are those cues triggers for deeper discussion?
- Agree on your mutual expectations. When you decide on the habit-building you’ll tackle together, work on one habit at a time. If you came up with a list, prioritize it, but agree to be okay with letting your decisions live on the list until you get to them (another mutual decision) because the previous habits listed have been newly accomplished.
Habit-building can be immensely enjoyable when done with a great work partner. Revel in the journey and don’t rush this; be present in your partnership and learn together. Celebrate your victories: Managing: Be a Big Fan of the Small Win.
Ho‘ohana ka‘ana like: Any thoughts to share?