…is still a Secret!”
At the end of last month’s edition, I mentioned how we would explore the widening gap in our soft skills relative to what 21st Century Business requires. However, when I began to write my thoughts on the topic, I realized I had skipped a step in the process of enhancing and improving our soft skills. Being effective in any skill requires practice until the skill becomes a habit. It occurred to me I would be remiss by not addressing the biggest obstacle to changing habits first before continuing our thought process on soft skills. In this edition, we will discuss the obstacle most anyone looking to change to more productive habits encounters ~ self-discipline!
As the title suggests, there is no secret to success without hard work. Because this journey involves work that does not come easy, it is fair to say our desire to achieve a new habit will be challenging. The discipline applied to developing any new habit must be strong enough to overcome any mental and physical obstacles old habits hold against achieving success. By way of illustration, I will use my own personal experience of teaching myself to write left-handed six years ago. It is a simple example and yet it highlights the three key elements of self-discipline necessary to create new habits of thought and behavior.
- What is the Motivation to Change ~ An integral part of effective goal planning is identifying the motivation to achieve the goal. Motivation is an inner force that only the person who wants to achieve the goal can bring to process. It is why we have our clients document the rewards and consequences of their goals as early steps in the process, to effectively document their motivation to achieve them. Without the right level of motivation to achieve the goal, the level of self-discipline applied to the effort will fall short. In my case, my motivation to write left handed centered on activating new actions in the brain!
- What is the Proficiency in the New Skills ~ It is fair to say that learning new habits may involve learning new skills. Quite often, these new skills are the reason people resist change out of fear they no longer have, and may struggle to learn, the new skills to stay relevant. Learning new skills can be a challenge, even if intellectually, the new skills will advance a person’s career. The level of self-discipline required is enough to learn the skills at a level of proficiency where it becomes a new habit. In my case, it took six months before I was comfortable writing letters and numbers as a matter of course!
- What is the Accountability Process to Yourself ~ Habit change is hard and the path from the old habit to new habit success is never linear. This is where self-discipline really matters, in the actual execution of the goal and eventual new habit. It is very difficult to hold ourselves accountable without some level of external support. Every significant personal or professional goal I’ve achieved was well publicized within my trusted networks. These networks helped me stay focused on my goals when my own self-discipline wavered. Whether completing the New York City Marathon (again) or starting a business during the recession, external support was part of the success formula! Accountability partners, peer accountability groups, coaches and mentors are just some of the resources to support self-discipline and accountability. In my own example, the visual of holding a pen in my left hand as I completed my favorite crossword and sudoku puzzles was more than enough to hold me accountable to eventually being able to do them consistently left-handed!
Jim Rohn once said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Effective leaders constantly assess their current habits of thought and behavior against what is necessary to achieve sustainable success. New goals are created with a healthy dose of discipline to achieve them amid all the distractions and diversions. Many of these goals will center on developing their soft skills that will ultimately determine their ability to stay 21st Century relevant!
How are you disciplined to do the hard work for your sustainable success?