Habits get a bum rap. When you think about your habits, I bet you think of the “bad” ones – the ones that you aren’t particularly proud of, like eating too much sugar, or smoking, or dwelling on your negative thoughts. According to Webster’s dictionary a habit simply is: A pattern or action that is acquired and has become so automatic that it is difficult to break.
It’s easy to see how if you start a behavior, and continue to reinforce it, it quickly becomes a habit. The pint of Ben and Jerry’s after dinner, playing Free Cell when you should be making calls, or always leaping to a negative conclusion when something happens. Once habits are formed, they can be hard to break, correct?
Get ready for a new perspective – habits can be good! What if, instead of relating to your habit as a problem, you were able to use your habits creatively to help you be more successful? Since habits are a natural part of our human experience (for better or worse), learning to capitalize on your innate ability to form positive patterns can mean a very successful life and business.
Here are 5 habits that successful entrepreneurs can learn to develop.
1. Build resilience. You don’t need me to tell you – part of what goes with the territory when you’re self-employed is the incessant up and down of sales and cash flow. This is probably the number one stress producer for entrepreneurs.
Building the habit of resilience will help you to elegantly weather the unavoidable ups and downs. You build resilience by building your reserves. Some examples of reserves are cash, (having 6-9 months of savings in the bank) self-esteem (plenty of positive regard for yourself) or confidence (feeling like an expert in your field).
What creates the most worry for you when faced with a stressor in your business? Focus on building a reserve of what ever will counter your number one stressor.
2. Become a passion junkie. Passion is an emotion – it’s a feeling of excitement and intensity. It arises when you recognize something that authentically resounds in your being, and is a result of love and affinity. You know when you feel it and you know when it’s missing.
Unfortunately, many people have developed the default habit of connecting with the emotion of fear instead. Fear (unless a polar bear is chasing you) fuels negative thinking and always results in stress. How do you connect with your passion? How can you begin to disqualify the fear-based thoughts that want to hog the road (of your mind)? Once you discover your passion, or remember it, taking active steps to stay connected to it will begin a new practice and encourage the passion habit in your life.
3. Be authentic. According to psychologist, Abraham Maslow, “Authenticity is the reduction of phoniness toward the zero point.” Strive to be honest in your personal and professional dealings so your behavior and speech are a true and spontaneous expression of your inner self. Live in a way that expresses your real vision, values and characteristics.
Do you know who you truly are? By knowing yourself first, you will develop the habit of authenticity. What you put into the world will begin to be congruent with what you receive back from the world.
4. Work smarter not harder. If you’re not careful, working hard can deteriorate into an exhausting habit, rather than an expression of an ethic. Often what drives and motivates entrepreneurs is the desire for success, but the pursuit of success often comes with mental baggage that can undermine it.
What are the mental “tapes” that cycle through your thought stream to undermine you? “I’ve got to work hard and prove myself”; “If I don’t do it myself, it won’t get done” or perhaps, ”If I could just put in more time, I’d get it all done”. Begin to build the habit of working smarter not harder. Counter the disempowering messages with some practical actions that put your business more on autopilot. Improve your systems, take the time to plan, and delegate.
5. Practice generosity. The international business networking organization, BNI’s motto is “Givers Gain”. The premise is – more will come back to you if you focus on generously giving to your business network, and your customers.
Giving, providing value, or offering superlative customer service is an attractive attribute and positive habit to develop. Tim Sanders, author of “Love Is The Killer App” articulates this business idea as, “the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with your business partners”. This value can drive your business and your life up as far as you want it to go. What intangibles do you have to offer your world? What shift in your success and happiness do you see possible by focusing on giving rather than gaining?
If creating a habit is as easy as starting a behavior, and then repeating it (practice), consider the positive and powerful habits you could begin to form in your life and business, starting today! Going back to Webster’s definition, a positive habit would be equally hard to break. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change?
It’s YOUR life…live it completely!