This post is dedicated to the person in the mirror. It is the final post on the 6 Elements of the Praxis Paradigm - Physical, Mental, Emotional, Social, Developmental, and Habitual. Next week, we will begin exploring the 6 Action Styles and Leadership Languages.
The Habitual Element
The 6 Habitual Elements
Organization / Time Management
Sleep / Natural Cycles
Last week, I was in need of a summer read, so I asked a friend for a recommendation. She gave me a title I’d never heard of - A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Trusting her literary tastes, I picked up a copy. In the opening chapter, I read this quote:
“If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.”
Taking some artistic liberty with the quote, I changed a few words, and came up with this:
“If an athlete does not master her habits then she is bound to be mastered by them.”
Own your actions, and their impact, or be owned by them. There is no alternative. Your actions impact your circumstances - both your actual circumstances and your perception of them. No act, or habit, is neutral. Each and every act informs the bigger picture. Habits help or hinder progress, promote or restrict possibility, uplift or diminish personal power. Every action has an impact, and the sum of those impacts shape the context of your life.
Life happens by choice. It is the result of small, individual, seemingly meaningless decisions, your habits. A habit is an ingrained choice of action, a tendency or practice developed to promote efficiency, and reduce decision-making fatigue. The beauty of habits is that when they are created intentionally and trained deliberately they open space for spontaneous innovation. Train solid technical skills and decision-making principles and you are free to play the game as it presents in the moment. Habits free energy reserves to pursue higher, more complex purposes. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When created without intention, habits consume our energy, debilitate progress, and restrict spontaneity.
We dress ourselves in our habits, wearing them like a monk wears his cloth. They are so much a part of our constitution that they often go unnoticed. Invisible. Yet everything we experience is subtly shaped by our habits. Disciplined, intentional habits give freedom. Blind, irresponsible habits limit it.
Happiness is a choice. That’s a phrase I heard a lot in college. When I heard it, I’d roll my eyes, and think, you don’t get it, you don’t get me. Happiness wasn’t a choice for me.
I perceived happiness as some huge, big, dauntingly magical destination that existed way beyond my reach. I was too far in the rabbit hole of fear, doubt, and denial to accept my power to choose happiness right here, right now. I didn't choose happiness, because I didn't think it was a choice. It was too big, and too far away. Happiness was impossible. So by default, I became a bystander to my circumstances, both the victim and victor of the events that happened around me. I rode a roller-coaster of emotion - somedays happy, somedays in despair. I was owned by my circumstances. Owned by winning and losing. Owned by achievement. Owned by what people thought of me. Owned by what I thought of myself. Owned by expectation. Owned by my lack of awareness, by blindness, and denial.
I'm not saying all was bad - I did pretty well and enjoyed some great experiences, but my default habits got me exactly where I was, and that was exactly where they'd always get me. At some point, you realize you have a choice - whether on a team, in business, a relationship, or in life - to adapt your habits, and how you interact with the world or risk extinction.
It took a coach saying 'You need to reinvent yourself' and a couple friends saying good-bye for me to wake me, look in mirror and see that I was not actively engaged in creating my life.
In Yoga, I discovered a practice and space where I was safe to take the blinders off. I was overwhelmed and scared by what I saw - a glimpse of how I actually was, not how I had always pretended to be. It was tough to stomach at first, I wanted to crawl back into the cave of ignorance. But looking in the mirror, and accepting what I saw was the most liberating thing I've ever done. Happiness became accessible.
I re-evaluated and de-stigmatized my idea of happiness, telling myself a new story - that happiness wasn't some big, bold, Olympic pursuit; it was simple, daily, disciplined, intentional decisions. I told myself happiness lives in unremarkable moments, in small wins. Happiness wasn't a destination, it was a daily choice. A choice rooted in habits.
We have the power to create our habits, and shape our destiny. It is each of our responsibilities. But where do you begin?
- Accept Ownership. Accept that you have a choice. Its on you. No one else.
- Choose your desired impact. What do you want to create for yourself? What impact do you want to have? What do you want to be possible for you? Set your intention.
- Look in the mirror. Become aware of your current reality. What story do you tell yourself about your current reality?
- Accept Reality. Its not good or bad, it just is.
- Understand Your Habits. Your actions create your reality. Examine current habits. What's the habit loop - What’s the action, what triggers the action, what’s the impact of the action, and what’s the need satisfaction of the action, what behavior does it reinforce?
- Choose New Habits. What habits will help you create your desired experience and impact?
- Make a Specific and Measurable plan. Create a plan to adapt the habit loop. What does deliberate practice look like?
- Do the Work. Train new habits.
- Trust your habits. Let magic emerge spontaneously as you focus on small wins.
- Re-evaluate habits. Examine impact, adapt and adjust accordingly.
So if you want to own your experience, accept that the choice is yours, and yours alone. I support whatever you choose, as long as you take ownership of your choice. Because happiness is a choice.
Discover Within, Expand Beyond