Good Habits, Bad Habits

Do you have any habits? Let me help you with the answer to that question. Yes, you do have habits. If you’re a normal person you have both good habits and bad habits. 

It has been said that people create their own futures. That is not exactly accurate. What people create are habits and those habits create their futures. 

Just so we’re all on the same page a habit is a routine behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. The American Journal of Psychology defined a “habit, from the standpoint of psychology, as more or less a fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”

So basically a habit is stuff we do repeatedly, most often without even thinking about it. 

But I’m going to ask you to stop doing anything without thinking about it for a week. Think about EVERYTHING you do. Take note of everything you do during each day of the week and track it on paper or in your phone. At the end of each day honestly look at everything you did that day and ask yourself six questions. Why did you do it? Did it need to be done? Was a productive? Did it add value to my life? Add value to the lives of the people around me? Did it benefit my employer in any way?

Be honest with your answers or don’t bother doing this exercise. 

How many of the things you do each day do you do without even thinking? How many do you do simply because you’ve “always done them?” How many of them are you struggling to assign any value or benefit to? 

How many of them would you define as good habits vs bad habits? Remember the honest part. 

Now, which of the bad habits are you willing to part with? I’ve been told that cracking open a Diet Coke at 4:30AM is a bad habit. Mind you, this is being told to me by people drinking their 4th cup of coffee which they apparently consider to be a health drink. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a bad habit or not, the Diet Coke ain’t going anywhere. 

If you choose to hang onto a bad habit that’s fine, but you need to be aware that you’re doing it. You also need to be aware that the more bad habits you hang onto the less room you have in your life for good habits. 

The bottom line here is this…think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. That’s hard to do all the time but very successful people make a point to do it at least now and then. I’m willing to bet it’s entirely possible you’ve haven’t done it in a long long time.

So do it now!

Leadership Slippage

I recently received a call from a very effective sales leader. He was frustrated with the recent performance of his sales team and wanted to talk about a couple of his people in particular. I asked how many of his people he thought were underperforming and he said that actually all of them were but some were doing worse than others. 

I asked him what he thought was going on and he said he wasn’t sure. That’s what he wanted to talk to me about. He was surprised when I said that while I didn’t know exactly where the team went off the rails I was pretty sure I knew the source of the problem. 

I’m thinking he wasn’t too happy when I told him that he was the likely source. 

As with most sales leaders he has always accepted part of the credit for his team’s success. But it must worth both ways. If you’re a sales leader the first place you should look if all or most of your team is underperforming is in the mirror. 

Think if it this way. There is only one thing all your salespeople definitely have in common. Your salespeople are all unique individuals. Depending on the structure of the sales organization they may even sell different products to different markets.

The sales leader is the one thing they definitely have in common. That’s why when an entire sales team is slipping I look at the leader. 

I asked him what HE was doing differently. He said he was doing what he always had. He hadn’t changed and neither had the level of leadership he provided to his team. So we started talking back and forth and I eventually asked about his conversations with his team. He said he had asked several members of his team where they were struggling. He asked about specific customers and where in the sales process they were with particular prospects. 

He said that only added to his frustration because they didn’t seem to know. 

I stopped him cold when I asked him, “when did YOU start accepting ‘I don’t know’ as an acceptable answer?” I pushed my point by asking him when he had stopped holding his team accountable for knowing every detail about their territory and their customers. 

He said he didn’t realize that he had. 

That is an incredibly common mistake among all leaders. Leaders have the same ability to slip into bad habits as the people they lead. Authentic Leaders encourage their people to analyze their own performance from time to time but forget that they must do the same. 

When was the last time you paused to ask yourself the following questions? What’s working for you? What’s not working? What good habit have you let slip away? Have you replaced it with a bad habit? What circumstances have changed that you have not adjusted to? How have you positively impacted the people you lead in the last 30 days? 

It’s human nature for some slippage in performance to happen from time to time. That’s where having a coach or a mentor can really come in handy. They can help you identify the slippage before it becomes a problem. If you’re not willing to ask yourself those questions a caring mentor will. 

What many people in Leadership positions don’t realize is that slippage can happen to them as well as their people. That’s why leaders need mentors too. I’ve never met anyone, regardless of age, experience, or level of success who didn’t benefit from having a coach or a mentor. 

Has your level of leadership slipped lately? Slipping into occasional bad habits doesn’t make you a weak leader, it makes you a human being. Being human is a pretty darn good thing to be, especially when you’re trying to lead other humans.