How to make Behaviour Change Stick

It’s January. New year is a time for reflection on how life is going… and often to make changes.

Why does behaviour change fail?

Here are 3 reasons why I see people fail at behaviour change:

  • Lack of Clarity: They have a vague sense of the desire to change, but no clarity around exactly what it is that needs to happen every day. Choose something specific and achievable that you want to change. Write it down and make it visible.
  • Lack of Support: They are in an environment that doesn’t support the change, or that actively holds them in the current state. Who around you is already making this change work in their own life? If your friends are fit, you are going to be fit. If your friends read lots and share their lessons, you are going to be a reader and a learner.
  • Impossible expectations: They have a sense that clear, visible, lasting results will appear in a few days. They have an unrealistic expectation of how quickly they will see results. Most Important: Decide to commit to the change, and let go of your expectations around seeing quick results.

What to do to help Behaviour Changes stick?

If you liked this post, you will also like the guide to behaviour change and Managing Oneself.

Don’t Make This Mistake: Good Intentions but No Actions

“The road to hell is paved by good intentions”

Be careful that your good intent results in good action.

Only action changes our world.

We see our Intentions, Others see our Actions

We should evaluate actions by their consequences, not their intentions.

Soft intentions, often create unintended consequences.

We judge ourselves by our intentions, others judge us by our actions. We are often so clear on our intent, that we are blind to how our actions might look to another person.

“Could do” vs “Will do”

Could vs Will – “I could do what you are doing!” – could = anyone “could”; doing it is the thing.

Anyone could make a call

Anyone could define a vision

Anyone could…

Could changes nothing.

An action (even half a step) begins the change.

Where opportunities come from

Jim Collins says that “Return on Luck” is one of the significant factors in extreme success.

It is not that successful companies or people have more luck… it is how they follow through on their lucky breaks that makes the difference.

One person might meet someone who could open a door of massive opportunity… but doubt and confusion mean that they don’t pursue the chance.

Another might meet the same person… and have the motivation, vision and competence to take the opportunity and turn it into a gold mine. Whether you are lucky or not today, you can invest in developing your clarity of vision, your competence, your network of trusted relationships – to be ready to maximise your return on luck when an opportunity comes to you.

Where Opportunities come from

“Stand in the traffic”

Prof Paris de l’Etraz, IE Business School, Madrid

Whilst luck is not controllable… there is something that I can do to increase the chances of lucky breaks occurring.

Prof Paris de l’Etraz of IE Business School in Madrid teaches a course on managing your life. One of his sessions is titled “Stand in the Traffic“. He says that it is important to place yourself physically and mentally where many opportunities are likely to flow. Your sofa at home is comfortable… but no opportunities are flowing past. If you spend your days at a business school… a lot of people, ideas and opportunities flow past.

Lucky Opportunities tend to be Stumbled Upon

The author of the Atomic Habits book, James Clear, has a wonderful weekly email newsletter. Here is a thought that he shared on opportunities…

from James Clear…

“Lucky opportunities tend to be stumbled upon, not handed out. 

If you’re waiting for someone to hand deliver an excellent opportunity to you, it’s unlikely to happen. But if you are exploring and moving—if you’re in the mix and engaged—then you’ll stumble upon many opportunities. 

The active mind comes across a lot. Keep tilling the soil and you will occasionally unearth something wonderful.”

Have a great Sunday.

If you liked this post, you will also like How to be Lucky (4 ways to improve your luck) and Serrendipity.

The Courage to be Rubbish

I get requests for advice from people starting youtube channels.

My first piece of advice is “make bad videos”. When you are starting out, don’t aim for good… aim for done. If you make 1 “bad” video a week for 52 weeks… you will make many bad videos, but you will accidentally create a few good ones, and at least 1 excellent one.

Don’t wait for excellence. Have the courage to make rubbish videos.

The Iterative, Experimental Approach to Progress

I was reminded of this idea of The Courage to be Rubbish by a podcast conversation between Greg McKeown and Bob Glazer, the host of the Elevate podcast.

Greg shared a story about the Kremer prize. This is a prize that was established in 1959 where Henry Kremer put up money as a prize for “Human powered flight”. It was 18 years before the prize was claimed.

There were many approaches by people seeking to win the prize – most involved lots of careful building with delicate and expensive parts… and then a test flight… mostly ending with a crash.

Paul MacCready, the eventual winner of the Kramer prize, approached the prize in a different manner. He saw that if he could make the cost of “failure” extremely low (in both damage to his own body and damage to the kit and to his finances) he could incrementally improve his system over many many iterations.

Crappy test… and iterate… and repeat. He had to repeat many times, but slowly started to improve the parts and his own skill. It was more of an “evolutionary” approach to design. It took many iterations, a lot of experimentation, a lot of steady slow improvements… and then he won the prize.


Gossamer Condor in flight, By Laura Bagnel

The Gossamer Condor approach to Youtube & blogs…

Make a bad video, with the kit you have right now. The phone in your pocket has more than enough quality to make a first bad video.

If you keep making videos, you will get better.

Focus on what makes it easy to keep making videos, not on making great videos.

This idea doesn’t work where there is a high cost of failure. Youtube videos, blog posts… they have a very low cost of failure. If they are bad, few people watch.

Further resources on Blogging and Youtubing:

Redefining Failure

“Living Safely is Dangerous”

Nietzsche

What is your relationship to success and failure? I have been reflecting these recent weeks about how I respond to “failure” – when things do not turn out as I hoped or wished.

The video below shares my thinking about a better way of approaching failure in our lives.

How I let failures derail me…

I let small failures easily put me in a state of frustration and stop me making progress (and then checking social media and seeking out other simple distractions).

I take small setbacks incredibly personally.

I’ve been reflecting on why I let these small failure events have such an effect on me.

I realised that I was telling myself that all setbacks are bad.

This is not a great story to tell myself. A new story is that failures are a sign that I am working towards important goals. A lack of setbacks would be a demonstration that I am only working towards easy, unimportant goals that don’t push me to grow as a person.

Essential Meaning of failure: (from Merriam-Webster dictionary)

  1. a lack of success in some effort
  2. a situation or occurrence in which something does not work as it should
  3. an occurrence in which someone does not do something that should be done

The 54 Skills Vital to the Future of Work (McKinsey)

Sustainability, AI and Digitalisation are three important strategic concerns for all businesses. Covid has accelerated this process of transformation. Some jobs will disappear, and new types of jobs will be created. What skills will keep us valuable?

A recent McKinsey report looked at the human skills that will remain in high demand as organisations adapt to the requirements of a sustainable and digital world.

What are the skills that will keep you gainfully employed in future?

McKinsey surveyed over 18,000 people across 15 countries to identify 54 key future-proof skills, which are grouped into 4 categories:

  1. Cognitive – Problem Solving, Planning, Structured communications, Mental flexibility
  2. Interpersonal – Influence, Relationships, Teamwork
  3. Self-Leadership – Self awareness, goal setting
  4. Digital – Data literacy, Computational thinking

The 54 Future-Proof Skills

The rest of the report identifies 54 “distinct areas of talent” – which McKinsey calls DELTAs. These each have an attitudinal and a skill element, so they are something beyond a basic skill. I include the infographic below directly from the McKinsey report:

The Mindset required for Future Employability

In addition to the 54 skills, McKinsey outlined 3 aspects of a Mindset that will be key to future employability:

  1. Contribute – add value beyond what can be done by automated systems and intelligent machines 
  2. Digital – operate in a digital environment 
  3. Adapt – continually adapt to new ways of working and new occupations 

The Impact on Job Satisfaction

There are a few different graphs shown in the full McKinsey report. I found this particular one interesting – the “DELTA”s that most correlate to Job Satisfaction… I would suggest they go farther than just job satisfaction and correlate with overall life satisfaction.

The top 10 Skills for Job Satisfaction

How will you be working on improving your competency in the top 10 skills for Satisfaction?

  1. Self motivation and wellness
  2. Coping with Uncertainty
  3. Self Confidence
  4. Sociability
  5. Programming literacy
  6. Energy, passion and optimism
  7. Understanding biases
  8. Empathy
  9. Integrity
  10. Grit and persistence

If you enjoyed this post, you will also enjoy The Zig-Zag Path to your Dream Job and What will future jobs look like?

How to Stay Sane in Uncertainty

A month ago it felt like the Covid virus was losing its capacity to disrupt our well made plans… but along comes Omnicron and the maths change again.

We are living in the era of predictable unpredictability. All plans are flexible and adaptable.

It is a state of existence that puts great pressure on our mental well-being.

Predictably unpredictable

For two years we have lived with shifting regulations around masks, tests, travel restrictions, lockdowns and vaccine certificates. As new variants arise (and that process is guaranteed) these regulations come and go… leaving us all living in permanent limbo.

We have canceled our own travel plans at Christmas. It almost feels a relief to have clarity, even as we and our kids accept the loss of the imagined joys of Christmas presents and time playing with cousins.

A decade ago online shopping, distance learning, home office and video conferences were the stuff of sci-fi and a few techie nerds. Today they are our lives. The advances in how we use technology to allow hybrid classes in IESE and hybrid meetings in Vistage have amazed me. I believe that the rapid acceptance of technology to facilitate communication, work, teams, advances in new organisation structures, crypto (as a store of value and with NFTs as a means to distribute equity, ownership, trust or revenues over a large group) is going to open up some massive steps forward for humanity.

Healthy Humans Need Meaning

We get a lot of the meaning in our lives (in the west) from activity, from progress against plans, from the feeling of forward momentum. We can find meaning in other ways. If we are to stay sane in times of unpredictability, we need to find meaning in other ways. A daily gratitude list – “3 things I am grateful for” is a very powerful meaning and mindset shift. Setting 10-20 year goals is another way of keeping a sense of meaning (and progress) even in the face of short and medium term unpredictability.

What are the activities, conversations, focusses that give a sense of meaning to your own life?

Great Strategy without Great People is nothing

Ideas + Capital + Talent = enduring great business.

Ideas are everywhere, nothing special about an idea.

Capital is plentiful for those who have proven themselves. Today there is so much capital sloshing around looking for moderate returns.

The Scarce Resource…

Talent, true talent… is rare.

Talent isn’t potential. Talent is systematic repeated high performance over years or decades. This is extremely rare.

Potential talent looking for capital will not find it. Capital doesn’t invest in testing talent… capital invests in proven talent.

How do you become “proven talent”?

That is the question.

Improving your Strengths or Improving your Weaknesses

You cannot win the marathon by sprinting.

The winner of the 100m in the Olympics might also win the 200m, but will never be competitive in the 10K… or marathon …or rowing, or judo…

Gold medal athletes focus on their strengths and work to amplify their strengths. Usain Bolt doesn’t spend training time trying to improve his long distance capacity. He works on his start, on acceleration, on sprinting and finishing. He works on his strengths.

Recently I’ve felt a lot of pressure to spend time on areas that for me are weaknesses. I am writing this blog post mainly as a reminder to myself to stay strong, and accept these weaknesses. As a leader, I am responsable for making sure there are people and systems around me so that our business doesn’t have weaknesses… but it is not me that should spend time in areas where I am weak.

Dan Sullivan on working on your strengths

If you work throughout your life on improving your weaknesses, what you get are a lot of really strong weaknesses.

Dan Sullivan

In order to do well in school, you need to get good grades in all the subjects. If you are good at sports when you are 12 or 15, you are probably the best at most of the sports you try.

I did well in school. It became painful for me to not get good grades… in any subject… even the ones that I really didn’t care about.

In business (and professional sports), you do well by being really good in one subject. In order to be excellent, you need to deliberately choose to be bad in almost everything else.

I am good at some things, I am not good at lots of things. A lot of the people around me are great at letting me know what I’m not doing so well… I have to stay mindful in order to not get drawn into trying to spend effort improving my weaknesses.

Stephen King says “I was lucky. I was born only good at one thing. Imagine how hard it is for people who are good at 2 things… or what is truly difficult… being good at most things.” (I paraphrase as I can’t currently find the original quote)

Are you working on your strengths?

If you liked this post, you will also like Managing Oneself and Meaningful Contribution.

Deleting Instagram, Facebook and Twitter from my phone

On returning from the summer holidays, iPhone Screen Time showed that I had used my phone for over 4 hours a day.

I hated this idea. That 4 full hours each day in some way were glued to a small screen. There is plenty of facetime calls and zoom calls… but a large portion has become the mindless scrolling down through instagram in particular.

I immediately deleted instagram, facebook and twitter from my phone. I left some of the other apps that were getting a lot of use: WhatsApp, Chrome, Linkedin, Chess.com, YouTube.

It has been a week without Instagram, facebook and twitter. I have not noticed missing anything. I got a couple of emails from instagram saying “you have 3 new messages” – but I can still see instagram when I am at my laptop so it is not that I have left completely.

This week’s iphone usage…

Screen time this week is down 27% from last week (and down over 45% from my peak distraction week!)

It is still pretty high.

…and it is such a powerful distraction.

I pick up my phone to do 1 thing – make a call, send a message… and then spend 10-20 minutes doing a cycle through a couple of apps… I am addicted to deliberate distraction.

I tell myself that I have discipline. I have spent a lot of the last decade working on using time intentionally and effectively… and I am not able to cope with an iphone.

I worry for humanity.

If this distraction were making us kinder, better, more informed, more worldly-wise then this would be a gift. These distractions are not making me kinder… if anything more impatient and rude to those around me.

I have decided that I have a problem. I am addicted. I do not have intentional control over my usage of this device.

It has so many useful features that make my life better – the camera and video in my pocket, google maps is brilliant, facetime with family has been wonderful during Covid times, whatsapp allows coordination of groups and meetings… I will not be getting rid of the iphone.

I will be honest with myself and say that I am not in conscious control of my usage and I need to set limits for myself.

I don’t like admitting it, but I guess this is an addiction.

I don’t like the idea of being controlled by a little device.

…but I am not capable of using it… it uses me.

Exit mobile version
%%footer%%