As humans we tend to judge one another. It is ingrained in us to make judgments and form opinions of others. We say that Jeff is nice or that Sue is an aggressive sales person. We say that you don’t want to cross Thomas or that Julie is always there when you need help.
While most of us feel that we are identifying embedded characteristics of someone, we aren’t always correct. The reality is that our judgment of someone might be completely different than another person’s judgment of that same person.
The reason that we can have these differences of opinions is because personality is not, in fact, ingrained. It isn’t so embedded in us that we cannot possibly change it. It is actually just an outward manifestation of our behaviors over time. And the majority of our behaviors stem from the systems and habits in our lives.
When I talk about habits I don’t just mean a few obvious bad habits such as smoking or biting one’s nails. I mean the collective repetitive behaviors that we rely on over and over again throughout our lives. What people are really observing and making judgments based on is simple. These are the patterns that they see in our behaviors.
When we take this big picture look at our selves we can finally start to form a better understanding of why. Why do we behave the way we do? Why do others always seem to form a certain opinion of us? Why does it take so much to change someone’s view of us?
The reality is that why is directly tied to the habits in our lives. We behave the way we do because there are two parts to our thoughts. One is the obvious rational mind that we rely on when we deliberately think about something. The other is subconscious. It makes decisions based on feelings and emotions.
When we want to make a positive change we usually start in the rational mind. We tell ourselves we will change and take strategic steps in order to realize that change. But something happens between planning and accomplishment. The something in between is execution. Why can we convince ourselves to do something yet find it so difficult to actually do it? The answer lies in the subconscious mind and the way we form habits.
So how can we use this to improve? The best way to improve is to do so systematically by making small changes that last over time. It won’t be immediate change but over time your new habits start to form patterned behavior that will help move you towards the success you desire.
This isn’t a new concept and isn’t something that is revolutionary. This is actually something that has been known for centuries. Yet in our attempt to get results immediately, we somehow have moved away from slow improvement over time. But the results are incredibly different. Instead of slowly improving we try shortcuts that don’t work. When they don’t work we try more shortcuts. Instead of slow growth we fall into a cycle of starting and quitting.
J. Paul Getty was the founder of Getty Oil Company and was known as one of the richest men in the world in the fifties. He has a quote that emphasizes these principles and gives advice that is still valuable today.
He said, “The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him – and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires.”
What are you doing to better understand the habits in your life that are determining your success? What are a few areas that you want to improve? Start there and use small steps that can be done over and over. By doing this you will slowly start to make progress. Once you understand how to make progress you will unlock a key to human growth that most people ignore.