How habits can help you build the best in leadership skills
“Habits are the closest we can get to having superpowers” – Tynan
What makes a superhero a superhero? There’s one little thing they all have in common: they can do something that we find impossible, or at least very hard, with ease. When we look at people who are super successful, we often see them a bit like superheroes. They must have something special, right? They’re so lucky. They must have some ability that I don’t. Right?
In his book ‘Superhuman by Habit’, Tynan says “it’s only because of one key thing: they are better at building and sustaining new habits.”
Habits. That’s your superpower. Because habits allow us to change something hard into something easy. Habits turn something that requires willpower and effort into something automatic and effortless. Habits are how we continuously increase our capacity, until others are saying of us: “they must have something special”.
Obviously, it’s not all habits that will turn us into superheroes. Habits can also be our kryptonite. We have to choose the right habits, and avoid the wrong ones. Habits like smoking, watching TV, procrastinating, and negative self-talk make us weaker. Habits that improve our health, build our confidence and increase our productivity make us stronger. But there is more to it than that. Our habits create our future selves. We need to be clear on who that future person is and design our habits carefully so that they move us in that direction.
Habits are not only powerful servants but powerful masters. The seed of our future self lies not in our intention, but in our habits. Once you have planted a beech tree you cannot wish for an oak to grow. Our habits march us inexorably onwards to a future self that is determined not by our hopes, but by our actions. Our habits matter enormously; we need to take great care in creating habits that are our servants, not our masters.
Once we know what habits we want to cultivate, our next challenge is making them stick. I have five things I have learned that greatly help me in successfully building a new habit:
- Pick just one. Just one habit. Resist the temptation to start with a few, or even two. Just one.
- Commit 100%. You’re all in. You need to feel the determination in your gut.
- Start small. Make the habit small, easy or quick to do.
- Do it every day. Make it an everyday habit, seven days a week. And preferably at the same time every day.
- Focus on the process. Monitor your actions, not your results.
Don’t worry about progress; success means simply doing it every day. Doing it every day will mean you do it better and better. Your first habit will lead to the next habit. Your ability to build habits will improve. One day – sooner than you think – your future self will look back and hardly recognize your current self. And your people will say: “they must have something special”. They will be right.