leadership dot #2491: atomic habits

In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he writes that to change a habit you must first change your identity and frame your habits in light of the person you wish to become. For example, if you wish to quit smoking, instead of saying “No thanks. I’m trying to quit.”, Clear recommends saying “No thanks. I’m not a smoker.”

When declaring a new identity, all of our habits and behaviors serve to “cast a vote” to either confirm or counteract that identity. If we claim an identity of being healthy (rather than losing weight), each time we make a healthy food choice or walk by the treats in the break room we’re casting a vote to show that we are healthy. The positive actions compound to become a habit that solidifies the identity we have chosen.

Clear writes that, as in election, you don’t need to be perfect or to accumulate all the votes to win, you just need a majority. If you do something counter to your identity, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it, rather just change your behavior to cast more votes in the other direction.

Think about the identity that you wish to become and claim that persona for yourself. Are you an artist? An entrepreneur? A fit person? A life-long learner? A writer? Own the vision of your future self and start casting votes today to help you achieve long-term victory.

Source: Atomic Habits by James Clear, 2018

leadership dot #2478: compartmentalize

One of the signs of maturity is the ability to compartmentalize your emotions.

If you come out of a bad meeting, you can put it away and walk into the next meeting neutralized. If it’s a bad day at work, you leave it in the car before you head into the house. If you have a great moment, you don’t let it prevent you from tackling the tough conversation with appropriate seriousness.

Cesare Pavese said: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Pay attention to the emotions of your moments and ensure that they align with the present and don’t allow the negativity to carry over from the past.

Thanks, Mike!

Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay


leadership dot #2477: choices

When you are in any type of relationship that isn’t going well, Adam Grant writes that you have four choices on how to respond. Your choice varies based on the control you possess and the commitment you have to preserve the relationship itself, whether that be a personal or professional one.

Your choices are:

  • Exit: You leave the relationship
  • Voice: You speak up and actively try to improve the situation
  • Persistence: Gritting your teeth and bearing the situation as it is without trying to change it
  • Neglect: You stay in the relationship but do just enough to get by

If you find interest in a relationship waning, evaluate the amount of control you have and the degree you wish to invest in improving the situation. Depending upon the situation, any of the four strategies may be valid choices but the key is to choose your path with intentionality.

Source: Originals by Adam Grant, 2017              


leadership dot #2453: grooming

One more thought from the human trafficking lecture I attended: the panelists were clear to dispel the myth that trafficking occurs by snatching children off the street. Most young women who are exploited through this injustice are initially groomed and seduced over a period of time. Individuals prey on the lonely, vulnerable and poor and befriend them with attention, money and gifts. Soon the disenfranchised person becomes indebted to the trafficker and controlled by their power.

If the mind is susceptible to grooming, think of how that malleability may be used toward good instead of illicit ends. A person can be bestowed with positive thoughts and dreams so that over time they become empowered to realize their potential. A person can be mentored, apprenticed, coached and professionally loved in ways that groom them to achieve greatness.

Whether intentional or subliminal, toward good or evil, wanted or imposed, we are all being influenced by others. Take care that the messages you share with others build their strength rather than minimize them. Over time, what you say (or don’t say) does matter.

Image by Tumisu on Pixabay

leadership dot #2450: sustain

A recent article in the New York Times asked: “Can America Still Build Big?” and raised questions as to whether the country still has the ability to complete big infrastructure plans. Part of the challenge comes from big projects being complex – thus requiring intra-agency/bipartisan cooperation, long term funding, extended constituent support, and most vexing, the willingness to wait before seeing results from the investment.

California’s attempt at building a high-speed rail has faced legal challenges, environmental protests, waning support and extensive delays. Its viability is threatened even though the state has the funds and had initial backing for the project from voters.

The stalling of the rail project reminded me of another scene from the I am Jane Doe movie on human trafficking (see dot #2449). The U.S. Senate began investigating the primary clearinghouse website and went so far as to take legal action against its owner when he failed to show up for a Congressional subpoena. But three of the primary members of that Senate committee are no longer in office, so again, a resolution languishes.

Part of your change effort needs to include intentional strategies on how to sustain the process. While you likely are tempted to dedicate your resources to create change, you can’t forget about garnering support over and over and over throughout the work. It’s not enough to have an initial victory; you must be vigilant in keeping that support over the length of the project, whether or not you remain in charge.

Big things take time. Invest big time in building your coalition to help you achieve big goals.

leadership dot #2440: rock you

I can’t say that I am a big Queen fan, but, like most people, I can stomp my feet and clap in the appropriate places during the song We Will Rock You. What surprised me when I saw the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was that the addition of these participative elements was intentional – put there specifically to create a role in the song for audiences.

After noticing that fans were singing along at concerts, the band decided that they should write music to intentionally engage their audience and scripted music that called out for specific clapping or stomping at designated places. Queen was a pioneer in this area and their fan engagement helped to solidify their legacy and enduring presence on the music scene.

Think about whether there are moments in your organization’s programs that may now have spontaneous client involvement but could be strengthened with intentionality. Could you add targeted participation in a church service beyond the usual rote responses or songs? Is there an opportunity to allow clients to make something and have a tangible takeaway from a conference or workshop? Can you create places where clients interact with a mascot or photo booth in your establishment? Or maybe it’s something as simple as leaving out Post-its or a blank wall where those who pass by can add comments.

Try one thing today that invites someone else to rock with you.

leadership dot #2429: crazy socks

A colleague posted on Facebook: “Meeting with an important donor. They wear crazy socks so I wear crazy socks…and then we compare crazy socks. This was not in my major gift training course.”

But maybe it should have been taught.

Everyone appreciates being recognized and known. The crazy socks illustrate that the gift officer acknowledges them as an individual, not just another “cookie-cutter” donor. While it costs nothing to do, I’ll bet that it pays major dividends in the relationship.

Pay attention to the small cues that people give you about what is important to them. What kind of candy is always on their desk? Do they suggest a certain restaurant or prefer a special dessert? Do they have a dog near and dear to their heart or a child who is their focus? What hobby can be that conversation hook for you?

You should know a personal nugget about every single person with whom you are trying to establish a relationship, whether that be a colleague, client or classmate. Use those tidbits to create connections that will last far longer than your crazy socks will.

Thanks, Meg!