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Change for the Better

The notion of continuous improvement applies not just to processes but to people too. We can all get better at what we do. Getting better might mean learning a new skill or gaining valuable experience. Sometimes getting better means dropping habits that no longer serve us and/or adopting new habits that make us more effective. Either way, changing habits is often easier said than done. But the satisfaction you get from consciously and deliberately re-creating yourself is significant. And achieving better results makes for a nice reward.

What do you need to do?

Observe yourself and identify a habit that's no longer working for you.

Perhaps making decisions for others has helped you to grow into your current role but you're faced with a constant barrage of managers and employees asking you for your opinion on everything from what food to get for the weekly meeting to how to price a quote.

Consider how this habit has protected or reinforced your identity and sense of self.

Solving problems feels good because I can get things done. I'm a person who gets things done and helps others.

What or who is the habit no longer serving?

My direct reports are losing opportunities to grow and develop when I make decisions for them. I need my direct reports to take on more, so that I can focus on the bigger picture for our company.

Observe yourself in action.

What do you sense in your body when the habit is called forth? Typically there is a sensation or feeling in the body that triggers the habit. In this example it could be a sense of discomfort or restlessness with the unresolved problem or it may be a rush of energy. We all experience the world in our own unique way and are prompted by different stimuli. One way to observe yourself is to take 10 minutes at the end of each day to review the moments when you reverted to old ways and the moments when you tried something new. Write it down in a journal or carry 3x5 cards with you and make notes of what you experience as you go through your day.

Intentionally insert opportunities to try something different.

Find 3 decisions each day that need to get made that you can delegate. And go delegate them.

It takes time to change a habit. Consistent repetitive practice allows you to build the awareness of your current behavior and establish new behaviors that eventually you won't have to think about. 21 - 30 days is a common time frame for changing a habit.

Enroll others. The people around you both at work and at home can provide you feedback about your progress. Be clear and specific about what you're trying to do and why it's important to you. Make it easy for them to give you feedback. One CEO client of mine put a dollar in a party fund for every time an employee caught him doing someone else's job. The money added up pretty quickly and got everyone's attention. It slowed down over time but when the CEO funded the difference for the party everyone was happy that he was empowering them to do their jobs and celebrating their ability to help him.

Where's the leverage for you? What old habit needs to give way to something new that will give you better results? If you need ideas of what to change, take a look at Marshall Goldsmith's "What Got You Here, Won't Get You There". Good luck creating your new more effective self!

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