Doing some blog reading today, I notice that an essay called Installing a new habit and breaking an old one written by Stephanie Burns is getting some attention.
I first saw it in the Slacker Manager’s Hot Links Column (which is a goldmine you should check into regularly: it’s in the left column of Bren’s blog) and then on Bert Webb’s Open Loops blog with some commentary in a post called The Secret of Changing Habits.
Some good stuff, but the reading mostly made me want to be Covey-authentic again. I may be thoroughly brainwashed, but when it comes to any discussion of habits I continue to turn to the guy I consider the master.
At some point, this is the key which got locked into my memory after I heard a Covey trainer say it during my Ritz-Carlton days:
Creating better habits of effectiveness is about repetition, pure and simple. When you get the knowledge about something (what to do, and why to do it), and you learn the skill associated with it (how to do it), get your attitude in gear (you gotta want to do it) and commit to doing it over and over again. After about 21-28 repetitions (some proven statistic) it’ll kick in for you.
That’s my recollection, not a quote, but here’s another quote from some of those old Covey class notes, circa 1995:
(Remember, the 7 Habits of Effectiveness are called that because they are about timeless principles.)
“All successful people have the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either, necessarily, but their dislike is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”
— Albert E. Gray in his essay The Common Denominator of Success
Within Gray’s quote is this other critical component to my way of thinking: liking something. If you like it, and it’s a good thing which builds a good habit (i.e. it will be character-building for you) you’re already way ahead of the game. In my mind, it’s like work: if you don’t love it, don’t do it. Find the work you will love, and do that instead. (Ho‘ohana) So much easier. So much healthier for you.
I also like the thought that attitude is about wanting. You know it’s true.
Perhaps this is why I’m so drawn to GTD right now too: Pure and simple, it appeals to me. I like the stuff, and I want to do it. Makes the habit building pretty sweet.
Why GTD reminds me of the 7 Habits. The 7 Habits are listed here.
A Riddle for you today: Who am I? Habits are powerful factors in our lives; they express our character and produce our effectiveness — or our ineffectiveness.
The instinctive, natural selection of wanting.