Don't Make Success Harder Than It Has To Be

Steve Chandler

Success is not easy, but it is not all that hard, either. It is not nearly as hard as we often make it for ourselves.

In my years of coaching leaders and sales professionals I have found that the major psychological obstacle to success is the myth of permanent characteristics. It is people who think that their habits of action are permanent characteristics. Believing in that totally false myth traps people in a prison, an iron web of limitation. And it's all unnecessary!

The repeated action patterns that you and I demonstrate throughout the day are a result of HABIT not the result of permanent characteristics, or character defects or personality quirks.

If we don't like a certain tendency we have (let's say to procrastinate) then the first step in correcting the tendency is to see it for what it is: a habit. A habit is a pattern of behavior woven into seeming permanence by repetition. If I repeatedly and consistently put off doing the tough tasks in favor of the easy ones, it will become a habit. It's the law of the human neurological system.

All I have to do to replace an unproductive habit with a highly productive habit is to create a routine that guarantees it. That's right, a ROUTINE! Please repeat that to yourself, "I don't need self-discipline for this, I don't need a new personality, I don't need strength of character or even willpower: ALL I NEED IS A ROUTINE."

One of my top mentors and business productivity coaches once told me that he had spent many years lowering his self-esteem by bemoaning the condition of his messy home. He lived alone and was a highly active business genius, who worked many long and joyful hours, but couldn't keep his place clean. He told himself that he was undisciplined and disorganized. Soon, in his own mind, he was a slob. Permanent characteristic: slob.

Finally it dawned on him that the only thing missing was a routine. That's all he lacked! He didn't lack willpower, good character or self-control. Not at all! He simply lacked a routine!

So he made up a routine: Mondays, while coffee was brewing and eggs cooking, few just a few short and quick minutes he would do his livingroom. Tuesdays, his kitchen. Wednesdays the bedroom. Thursdays the hall and porch. Fridays the home office and den. And each Saturday morning, for 20 minutes a deeper cleaning of his choice. That became his routine.

"At first, it was awkward and weird," he said. "And I thought to myself that it was so unnatural and uncomfortable that I would probably never follow through...but I promised myself a 90 day free trial. I'd be free to drop it if my theory was incorrect. My theory was that I only needed a routine, and that once my routine became routine, it would be an effortless and natural part of my life."

He was absolutely correct about all of it. When I visited him at his place, I noticed how clean and orderly it looked...I assumed he had someone come in...then he told me about the power, the absolutely stunning and amazing power of making up a ROUTINE. "I do it so naturally now that sometimes I don't even remember having done it, so I'll have to look out at my living room to check, and lo and behold, it's in complete order. I had done it without thinking."

If something isn't happening in your professional life, if you could sell more, or be more productive if only you were "as disciplined as so and so" then worry no longer. It isn't about you. It's about your lack of a routine. All you need is a routine. Make up your routine, and follow your routine, and if you do this for 90 days it will be so effortless and natural to you that you'll never have to think about it again.

Do you hate yourself because you don't cold call and prospect enough? There's nothing wrong with you. You just need a routine. Are you troubled by how your email is taking up your precious time and life as a leader? You aren't missing any kind of inner strength, you are missing a routine. Create a routine for yourself. Follow your routine for 90 days. Then you're free.

As the timeless wisdom says: "Sow an action...reap a habit...sow a habit…reap a character...sow a character...reap a destiny." Anyone can sow an action. Anyone. Just make up the routine and follow it. It bears repetition until it becomes a part of your life and a part of everyone's life you lead and coach: if you want to add a beneficial new behavior to your life all you need for that is a routine.

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