The #1 Most Important Thing for Your Success

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” — John Heywood, English Playwright

As managers, we have dreams. We have places we want to go in our lives and we have things we want to accomplish at work. There are improvements that we want to make, projects that we want to take on, and a team of people working with us that we want to influence positively.

But here’s the problem.

Having one good meeting with your team or even one whole day where you showed up as Hero You at work doesn’t really change anything. Just like eating one salad or doing one workout doesn’t make you a healthy person.

Habits, the little things you do every single day, will bring you where you want to be and ultimately make the difference in you becoming a superhero manager.

But, few managers put much focus at all on improving daily habits. They spend all of their time planning, thinking, and worrying about the next big conversation with their unmotivated employee, or anxiously preparing for an upcoming sales presentation. In reality, they could be focusing on small habits every single day to make those “big” events easier to handle, or maybe they wouldn’t even seem so big at all after intentionally creating new habits.

For example, imagine you have an employee with a bad attitude that you need to meet with in order to help them improve (or “come to Jesus,” as one of my former bosses used to refer to unpleasant transformational conversations, which not so surprisingly never really worked for him). That conversation would go much more smoothly, or even be completely unnecessary, if you had cultivated your own habit of speaking up immediately when you saw a behavior surfacing that wasn’t serving your team. Right?

(Sidebar here for a second. I don’t want you thinking that I have this mastered. As a manager, I’m not there 100% of the time. But I am working on it, doing tons of self-coaching around it, and moving forward thanks to lots of effort. And I know you can too.) 

The thing I want you to take away is this: if we aren’t careful, we can easily forget that real change happens from repeatedly choosing different actions. And instead, we could get stuck just doing things the way we’ve always done them, and feeling frustrated.

Habits are everything

When it comes to coaching yourself to be a better leader, habits are the only things worth thinking about. Sure, things happen along the way, both good and bad, that are out of our control. But the most powerful thing that’s within our control is the ability to shift our daily habits in order to get an even better result than we’ve been getting before. Your habits are everything! Like the bricks that were assembled to build ancient Rome, your daily habits will add up to making you an awesome manager and a leader who consistently shows up to work like a superhero.

Take 5 minutes of quiet, undistracted time to thoughtfully write out the answers to the following questions.

Of all of the different skills you need to be a great manager, which one might be the most important for you to focus on improving?

As you think about that skill, why would improving it be so important to you?

If you woke up tomorrow and were able to be 100% competent in that skill, what might your team and your boss notice as being some of the biggest things that are different about you? List 3-5 big actions they might notice.

As you look back at the list you just made, which one of those big actions might be the best one for you to focus on this week?

Take a moment to think about all of the many tiny actions that would lead to you following through on the big action. Of all of those tiny actions, which one might be the easiest action for you to take each day?

Would you be willing to hold yourself accountable to taking that tiny action every day this week? How might you accomplish that?

(Ways that some of my clients do this are: tracking whether or not they performed the action each day, using a calendar, journal, or notes app on their phone.)

Although it may seem insignificant, taking a new small action like this every single day will help you to build a new habit and strengthen your skills as a leader.

Please let me know how it goes!

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