Habits That Hurt: Just (Don’t) Do it
Everybody does it at one time or another.
You know what I mean.
It is a behavior that distracts you or bothers others.
It is often a trivial activity that is of little value or, even worse, negatively impacts your productivity.
Here are a few examples:
- Perhaps you sit in meeting with your head down, texting away. This activity is often called “The Leadership Prayer” (think about it).
- Maybe you always hit the ‘reply all’ button. You feel compelled to respond to every note by hitting that button and letting everyone know that ‘you got the message.’ Guess what? They don’t care.
- How about what you do when others are talking? Do you pretend listen or simply wait for a pause in the conversation so you can takeover the discussion.
We all do it at times.
Perhaps your it is a nervous tick, a trivial practice, or an annoyance you don’t even realize exists.
It is the behavior that may be eroding your brand and your effectiveness.
Created nearly three decades ago, Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline has become ingrained in our collective minds.
The slogan is designed to inspire people to greatness. Nike hopes to help individuals find their inner athlete, adventurer, and personal-best setter.
Might I suggest that some of us should build on Nike’s expression and look for the it we should stop doing?
So, what’s my it?
Well, I have several of them that are known to me and likely countless others of which I have no knowledge.
One of my its is that I tend to surround myself with noise.
Whether wearing headphones when I walk, turning on the radio when I drive, streaming videos at home, or listening to music in the office, it is always there.
I’ve become addicted to it.
Sometimes it serves me well. It can inspire or energize me, but arguably there are times where it hinders my thinking and distracts my efforts.
So, what’s your it? Here’s a few steps to help you uncover you it…
- Think through your day.
- Write down repeated behaviors; be specific.
- Identify those that offer little or no value.
- Prioritize them. (Not sure, ask someone to look at your list with you.)
- Chose one and commit to eliminating it.
- Tell a friend or co-worker of your decision and ask for support.
- Put a date on the calendar (21 days out) to meet and discuss progress.
If you do these 7 things, I guarantee that in the end you will:
- Not miss it.
- Be more productive because you stopped it.
- Find that many around you are pleased with your change.
I wish you all the best as you work to form better habits in your life.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.