Excellence is a Habit that Prevents Self-Defeating Beliefs and Behavior
Habit is one of the strongest forces in our lives. And that’s a good thing because if you had to stop and make a brand new decision about every little thing in life, you’d never make it out of bed, let alone get to work. While most habits are behaviors that save you a great deal of time, not all habits are helpful. Some actually get in your way of making progress toward desired goals. However, if mindfully striving for excellence becomes your overriding habit — your preferred way of being — then your other habits will be beneficial. Yes, the quest for excellence is a habit that feeds success!
For example, you might want to lose weight, but it’s your habit to watch TV while you eat. You can create an excellent eating habit, by educating yourself on the way good nutrition fuels your body. Once you truly appreciate that, you become more mindful about the type and amount of food you eat or avoid. You pay more attention to how and where you eat. In fact, you hold eating as a sacred way of caring for your body, so you set the table beautifully to enhance your eating experience. You become excited about flavor and experimenting with new dishes, spices and recipes. Your grocery shopping trips become exciting discovery and exploration sessions. Plus better body fuel causes more energy so you begin living a much more active lifestyle. As a result of your excellent eating habit, you lose weight without thinking about it!
Excellence is a habit that supports you in your quest for a more fulfilling life. Let’s first see how bad habits are able to get such a strong hold over you.
How is a habit formed? Any activity or thought (physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) will become a pattern or a habit if you repeat it often enough. They actually create physical, electrical and chemical pathways that become set in your brain. Yes, there are well-worn paths in your brain, and they got there just like you’d make a trail through a grassy meadow by going over the same ground again and again until you wore down the grass into bare soil. (If you’d like to learn more, check out Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I highly recommend it.)
Once patterns of behaviors are set, they run unconsciously in the background, like your computer’s operating system. You don’t see them or think about them, but these unconscious patterns control your life.
Many of the patterns are laid down as a result of fears from early childhood events, and they will draw you off the path to success. Here are some of the worst habits that even leaders may fall prey to…
- Failure to hold on to your purpose. To know what adds meaning to your life, you must make time to be quiet and thoughtful. You need to be willing to be vulnerable and dig deeply into what really matters to you. Once you identify your purpose, success requires that you hold on to it and not let go. Being specific and intentional about what you want drives the creation of excellence as a habit and keeps you from reverting to the past.
- Unclear goals. A vision without a plan is just a wish. You have to define your goals and then chunk them down into baby steps so you can successfully accomplish them.
- Inaction. Once you have a well-defined plan and you’ve defined your mini goals, you still need to take action. Procrastination and perfectionism are enemies to action. Effective leaders don’t wait for the perfect moment or try to plan for every contingency. Taking the first step may be the hardest, but have faith that everything will fall into place as you go.
- Loss of focus. Distractions and overstimulation interfere with planning and achieving goals. When your mind leaps from one thought to another, practice calming breathing exercises. Regularly spend time in mindful meditation. Learn to focus on one thing at a time.
- Acceptance of the status quo. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’re content with where you are, that’s fine. But if you want to excel, it requires that you take risks and get out of your comfort zone. You can’t change what’s going on around you until you change what’s going on within you. Rekindle the fire within yourself. Your determination and commitment will enable you to attain the success you seek. Each success fuels your self-confidence and spurs you on to greater efforts.
Do you agree that excellence is a habit you want in your life? I started paying attention to the processes and systems that created the greatest impact in my life. Some are seemingly insignificant; some are major breakthroughs. Combined, they form a road map for Stepping Forward into creating my life of meaning and fulfillment. You can now download an Introduction to The Stepping Forward Program. I invite you to get your copy today!