Tag Archives: habits

Success is a habit. How can we keep on winning?

Your morning cup of coffee: habit. Bedtime stories for your kids: habit. Daily perusal of favorite websites: habit. Early morning jog: habit. Success in life: habit.

Wait a minute. What? Yes, you heard right: Success is a habit, just like all those other routines. Sure, it takes a little more work to cultivate this one than, say, filing your paperwork before it overwhelms your desk; but nonetheless, if you train yourself right, you can experience that “I did it!” feeling over and over again.
The world is saturated with intelligent, highly educated, extraordinarily skilled people who experience ongoing frustration because of their lack of success. Millions of others spend their lives working hard, long hours only to die broke.… Success is a matter of understanding and religiously practicing specific, simple habits that always lead to success.

The secret to your success can be found in your daily agenda. Let’s look at five tendencies you need to become a habitual winner. John Maxwell, shares with us that the best way is to make it a habit.

1. Winners are passionate about what they do.

OK, I’m fudging my definition a little bit. I’m not sure passion is a “habit,” but I have to start there because it’s the cornerstone for everything else. Passion is the fuel and energy of life. It is the catalyst for self-discipline. It puts the fun in working. It’s impossible to succeed without it.

Here’s the common mistake: People look for outside influences to motivate them and fuel their passions. People ask me all the time, “John, who motivates you?” It’s the wrong question. They should ask what motivates me. If you have to wait for someone else to motivate you, you’ll spend a lot of time waiting. What gets you excited? What fires you up so much you have a hard time sleeping? What can you do that uniquely adds value to the world?

So why, then, do so many of us ignore our passions and chase money? Money isn’t a motivator for most people, no matter how often we equate achievement with wealth. I remember taking a job at a church in Sandiego. I was there about a week and a half when the comptroller came to me and said, “I’m bothered by something. You don’t know how much money you’re making.” I didn’t know and it didn’t matter. I went to that church because I had a passion for the job, not for the money I’d earn. If your work matches your passion, then it isn’t work at all. I like to say I’m a “workafrolic,” not a workaholic. It’s true—I can hardly distinguish work time from playtime. You can become one, too. If you make money at it, great; if not, then at least you’ve dedicated your life to something meaningful.
2. Winners value the process of winning.

People in the habit of losing overvalue victories and undervalue the process required to win. They want the thrill of the breakthrough, not the toil that comes before it. People in the habit of winning are the opposite: They find value and satisfaction in the preparation process.

Several years ago I led a group of friends and donors on a two-week trip to South and Central America. At the time I was working on my book Talent Is Never Enough. Since I knew I would spend many hours on the plane, I made copies of the outline and asked everyone for his or her input. We discussed what worked, what didn’t, and what could be improved. When we got home, one friend said, “John, we worked for you this entire trip! It was a lot of fun discussing ideas and contributing to your book. But more than that, I learned something important.” “What’s that?” I asked. “You got all the work done because you were prepared. I’m never going on a trip again without having a plan.”
3. Winners focus on their strengths and not their weaknesses.

If you want to be successful, you’ve got to work on your weaknesses, right?  Wrong! If you want to develop a habit of winning, you need to cultivate your strengths. Everybody does a lot of things badly, but everyone can be the world’s best at something. The trick is to find that something.

Now, there is one important question you must ask: What weakness is blocking my potential? Focus on the traits you can correct, such as developing a positive attitude, improving self-discipline or acting with more integrity. When it comes to skills, you don’t have much say—you’re naturally good at some things and not others. So focus on your strengths and stop obsessing over your weaknesses. Otherwise, you will be clawing your way up to average. Nobody pays for average. Nobody wins with average.
4. Winners focus on winning on the inside more than the outside.

If you want to win, you need to work on the inner you, not the exterior self you show the world. Remember this: If your inner core is weak, your outer self will eventually crumble, too. If it’s strong, that inner fortitude will shine through.

You can start by developing these three attributes:

Trustworthiness: You cannot win without earning the trust of those around you.

Discipline: The greatest competition you’ll ever experience will be between your disciplined and undisciplined minds.

Attitude: Believe you will win and you make it possible to win. Believe you will lose and you make it impossible to win. (Read more about John C. Maxwell’s thoughts on attitude in his piece The ‘Big 5’ Challenges People Face.)
5. Winners persist on their path toward success.

Quit, and you’re guaranteed to lose. Persist, and you’re on your way to finding success. You have to persist on the right path, however. If you refuse to quit that high-salary, low-satisfaction job, well, we’ve already addressed that mistake.

I remember the first time I spoke before an audience. It was 1966 and I was 19 years old. I knew right away that speaking was one of my strengths—I could tell people liked me and there was a good chemistry, but I had a long way to go to become good. So I worked at improving. I withstood my critics. I moved past rejection. I learned from my fumbles and failures. And when I found something that worked, I focused on improving it. How long did it take me to nail the art of public speaking? Ten years!

We seem to love stories of overnight successes, but the truth is there aren’t any. If you want to be a consistent winner, you’ve got to work at it every day. Success comes from developing the habits of winning.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Revisted

I have read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey on many occasions and find it useful to revisit the principals in Stephen’s book. This week we revisit those seven habits to spot check ourselves to make sure we are doing all we can to be effective in all areas of our lives.

I see seven unique human endowments or capabilities associated with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One way to revisit The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is to identify the unique human capability or endowment associated with each habit.

The primary human endowments are 1) self-awareness or self-knowledge; 2) imagination and conscience; and 3) volition or will power. And the secondary endowments are 4) an abundance mentality; 5) courage and consideration; and 6) creativity. The seventh endowment is self-renewal. These are all unique human endowments; animals don’t possess any of them. But, they are all on a continuum of low to high levels.

Associated with Habit 1:

Be Proactive is the endowment of self-knowledge or self-awareness, an ability to choose your response (response-ability). At the low end of the continuum are the ineffective people who transfer responsibility by blaming themselves or others or their environment anything or anybody “out there” so that they are not responsible for results. At the upper end of the continuum toward increasing effectiveness is self-awareness: “I know my tendencies; I know the scripts or programs that are in me; but I am not those scripts. I can rewrite my scripts.” You are aware that you are the creative force of your life. You are not the victim of conditions or conditioning. You can choose your response to any situation, to any person. So on the continuum; you go from being a victim to self-determining creative power through self-awareness of the power to choose your response to any condition or conditioning.

Associated with Habit 2:

Begin With the End In Mind is the endowment of imagination and conscience. If you are the programmer, write the program. Decide what you’re going to do with the time, talent, and tools you have to work with: “Within my small circle of influence, I’m going to decide.” At the low end of the continuum is the sense of futility about goals, purposes, and improvement efforts. After all, if you are totally a victim, if you are a product of what has happened to you, then what can you realistically do about anything? So you wander through life hoping things will turn out well, that the environment may be positive, so you can have your daily bread and maybe some positive fruits. At the other end is a sense of hope and purpose: “I have created the future in my mind. I can see it, and I can imagine what it will be like.” Only people have the capability to imagine a new course of action and pursue it conscientiously.

Associated with Habit 3:

Put First Things First is the endowment of willpower. At the low end of the continuum is the ineffective, flaky life of floating and coasting, avoiding responsibility and taking the easy way out, exercising little initiative or willpower. And at the top end is a highly disciplined life that focuses heavily on the highly important but not necessarily urgent activities of life. It’s a life of leverage and influence. On the continuum, you go from being driven by crises and having can’t and won’t power to being focused on the important but not necessarily urgent matters of your life and having the will power to realize them.

The exercise of primary human endowments empowers you to use the secondary endowments more effectively. We will now move from Primary to Secondary Endowments.

Associated with Habit 4:

Think Win-Win is the endowment of an abundance mentality. Why? Because your security comes from principles. Everything is seen through principles. When your wife makes a mistake, you’re not accusatory. Why? Your security does not come from your wife living up to your expectations. Your security comes from within yourself. You’re principle-centered. As people become increasingly principle-centered, they love to share recognition and power. Why? It’s not a limited pie. It’s an ever-enlarging pie. The basic paradigm and assumption about limited resources is flawed. The great capabilities of people are hardly even tapped. The abundance mentality produces more profit, power, and recognition for everybody. On the continuum, you go from a scarcity to an abundance mentality through feelings of intrinsic self-worth and a benevolent desire for mutual benefit.

Associated with Habit 5:

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood is the endowment of courage balanced with consideration. Does it take courage and consideration to not be understood first? Think about it. Think about the problems you face. You tend to think, “You need to understand me, but you don’t understand. I understand you, but you don’t understand me. So let me tell you my story first, and then you can say what you want.” And the other person says, “Okay, I’ll try to understand.” But the whole time they’re “listening,” they’re preparing their reply. They are just pretending to listen, selective listening. When you show your home movies or tell some chapter of you autobiography “let me tell you my experience” the other person is tuned out unless he feels understood.

But what happens when you truly listen to another person? The whole relationship is transformed: “Someone started listening to me and they seemed to savor my words. They didn’t agree or disagree, they just were listening and I felt as if they were seeing how I saw the world. And in that process, I found myself listening to myself. I started to feel a worth in myself.”

The root cause of almost all people problems is the basic communication problem people do not listen with empathy. They listen from within their autobiography. They lack the skill and attitude of empathy. They need approval; they lack courage. The ability to listen first requires restraint, respect, and reverence. And the ability to make yourself understood requires courage and consideration. On the continuum, you go from fight and flight instincts to mature two-way communication where courage is balanced with consideration.

Associated with Habit 6:

Synergize is the endowment of creativity, the creation of something. How? By yourself? No, through two respectful minds communicating, producing solutions that are far better than what either originally proposed. Most negotiation is positional bargaining and results, at best, in compromise. But when you get into synergistic communication, you leave position. You understand basic underlying needs and interests and find solutions to satisfy them both. You get people thinking. And if you get the spirit of teamwork, you start to build a very powerful bond, an emotional bank account, and people are willing to subordinate their immediate wants for long-term relationships. With courage and consideration, communicate openly with each other and try to create win-win solutions. On the continuum, you go from defensive communication to compromise transactions to synergistic and creative alternatives and transformations.

Associated with Habit 7:

Sharpen the Saw is the unique endowment of continuous improvement or self-renewal to overcome entropy. If you don’t constantly improve and renew yourself, you’ll fall into entropy, closed systems and styles. At one end of the continuum is entropy (everything breaks down), and the other end is continuous improvement, innovation, and refinement. On the continuum, you go from a condition of entropy to a condition of continuous renewal, improvement, innovation, and refinement.

Our hope in revisiting the Seven Habits is that you will use the seven unique human endowments associated with them to bless and benefit the lives of many other people.

Have a great week unless you choose otherwise.