Monthly Challenge for March

Theme: Honing Habits

Focus: In our quest for greatness, we have a variety of goals, both short-term and long-term. They can be attainable under the right conditions and these conditions start with each individual. It is wise to assess actions and systematically determine where shifts in habits are required, especially for greater levels of productivity.  What comes to mind is the effective use of energy invested in personal and professional affairs.

Make it personal: I sometimes describe life’s journey in three phases. 

First, there’s the walk up the hill.  This is a point where we study, work and conquer dreams. This is where we learn some of life’s greatest lessons, primarily when we are alert, aware, and willing. 

Next, there is the peak.  This is where we get to view the benefits of our effort. Here, we continue to assess the lessons we have learned and make adjustments. We can see the growth, joy, inspiration, or pain in the lives of others, as well as the role we have played influencing them. Here, we can also be a mentor and give the best of ourselves by developing others.

Finally, we walk down the hill. This is a time where we reflect, treasure our most scared blessings of health and family, and think about the long-term impact of our intellect and labor, and we tend to see a little bit of ourselves in those we have touched along the way.  

Confucius once said; “If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.”

At times, the challenge may be to sharpen our sense of direction as we progress upward, be humble at the peak of our game, and become more appreciative during our downward stroll. We must remain vigilant throughout this journey because when it’s over, it’s over. 

Thinking about this challenge, I reflected back on a business development session I was facilitating in 2018 as well as various presentations at area colleges. There, I tasked the attendees to look at a particular goal, then examine the benefits of their efforts in relationship to attainment. We examined a set time period, actions required to achieve, and outcome. I asked that they draw a pie chart depicting how they spend their time on a weekly basis and over a four-week period. Then, I asked them to identify ways to increase efficiency by two hours each day by making a shift in a daily habit. Out of 168 hours per week and 672 hours per four-week period, many attendees identified daily and weekly habits that yielded no real benefit.  Afterwards, I challenged each individual to redirect those two hours of energy into learning, increasing proficiency, or mentoring others.

I also pointed out that mental relief is important to the balance of predictability and productivity. As an example, I shared that I like to admire nature for at least two 30-minute sessions each day, especially in the morning and evening. Sometimes I take a stroll and at other times I observe from my kitchen window, while occasionally working reading emails. I described this as my reset period, one that keeps me aligned with good thoughts and positive energy.   

Create a Win: I’m at the point in my life where I consider myself walking down the hill. Therefore, my priorities of achievement have shifted over the course of time. Today, it’s about capturing life lessons in a way that is useful for others, especially young adults. I feel that if I can redirect the energy of one young man, or cause others to play a pivotal role in the growth of their family, then I win. 

W.E.B. DuBois said; “Strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities.” Another way I work to create a win is by writing a book based on personal experience, but supported by scholarly research. In collaboration with the right enablers, I’m on track to achieve. I made it personal, determined an end state, then dedicated time and resources to it. Along the way, I continue to get critical feedback, learn, adjust where necessary, and become a better me.  

The Benefits: At the end of the day, many of us can say we accomplished a variety of goals. However, beyond accomplishment, let us look at the investment and impact made upon others. Let us start thinking about what we can teach others, then package it accordingly.  I guess this goes back to my passion. As I’ve sought to teach others, I’ve made many of my achievements bigger than me. 

Growth Resources:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Stephen R. Covey, Nov 2004.

Igniting Teacher Leadership: The Importance of Habit. William Sterrett, Dec 2015. Retrieved from:  http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/sf116039/chapters/The-Importance-of-Habit.aspx

Quote: “My brother, you have walked far, and often without shoes. Your story is a testament of faith and it has inspired us to reach young men by showing them how to look beyond the steep slopes and sharp curves of life and elect to see grace. You represent resiliency, patience, and fortitude.” – Joe Shakeenab