Weekly Business Idea

November 17, 2017 – Can Your Habits Help You?

Posted on | November 17, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Do you ever do anything without thinking about it?  Do you know what your habits are?  Do you have bad ones or just good ones?  Have you ever tried changing habits?  How did that work?

Expansion of the Idea:

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a book by Charles Duhigg called the Power of Habit.  I was instantly intrigued because I knew that some of the things I wanted to do would be impacted by my existing habits.  I also knew that I needed to develop some new habits.  I realized that while this was not the answer to all of my dreams, it would help me.  As I was reading it I started to realize how much habits and cues impact our lives.  Some examples are:

  • Saying thank you (or not)
  • Making coffee when you wake up
  • Grab snacks as you sit down to watch the football game
  • Look at email first thing when you get into the office
  • How you answer the phone
  • Park at the same spot at the store
  • Tense up with a team member or difficult customer

You probably have hundreds of habits, some of which you would not identify as a habit unless you really thought about it.  These habits could be good, bad or neutral, depending on the circumstances.  One good habit for you might be bad for me.

Habits are the key for people recovering from alcoholism.  They were also the key for Tony Dungy when he led the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl.  He created habits to allow his team to move faster than the opponents.  The key with habits is to first acknowledge that they exist and then look at three things; the cue, the routine, and the reward.  The cue is what triggers the routine which leads to the reward which further reinforces the whole process.

The consensus in the book is that you cannot eliminate bad habits.  What you have to do is to change them from bad to good by changing the routine.  For instance, you might like to have a bowl of ice cream after dinner.  That might not be the best thing for your health so you consciously know you should not do it.  But somehow it happens.  Could you change the routine from 3 scoops to 1 scoop?  Or maybe when you get the urge, you go for a walk instead.  The point is that we have to substitute something for the habit you want to change.  And what we substitute has to provide a similar reward to what you got with your existing habit.  This isn’t easy but there are significant benefits personally and in our businesses.

By changing some habits, we can do the following:

  • Improve our health
  • Improve our relationships
  • Improve our energy
  • Improve our teamwork
  • Improve our customer service
  • Improve our effectiveness
  • Improve our leadership and management

The key thing is to identify what your habits are.  You want to continue the ones that are helping you.  Any habits that are hurting you need to be evaluated carefully and see if you can change the routine.  It also helps to involve others to help you.  They can give you feedback on how you are doing with any changes you are trying to make.  As a leader, when you are open to improving like this, your team is much more likely to do the same.  That is how you can make significant improvements to your business.

Here are some specific steps to consider:

  1. Make a list of personal or business habits.
  2. For any bad habits, evaluate why you do them and how to change the routine.
  3. For any good habits, evaluate the reward.
  4. Brainstorm with your team about potential new habits that you would like to implement.
  5. Read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg


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  • About

    These weekly ideas are brought to you by FitzGerald & FitzGerald P.C. For more information about how to use these ideas with your small business contact Tim FitzGerald at trfitz@fitz-net.com.