Developing Heart Habits

Awareness - Application - Integration

So, it’s been a while since your experience with us. How’s work been? Have you been following through on everything you set out to do? It’s funny how the challenges and circumstances we faced before our time away seem to hit us in the face the minute we get back to work; they all come knocking, asking for our attention.


Gradually, the ideals, motivations, and inspiration to be better, lead well, and serve others seem to fade as we step back into “real life.”


But they don’t have to.


So often, motivational experiences are promptly followed by a drift in focus and a missed opportunity to transfer head knowledge into heart knowledge, and less tangible principles like “Thinking Others First” or “Expecting the Best” can be challenging to implement. However, the  first moments stepping back into your environment are a critical time for you to transition your Awareness (identified growth areas) to Application (practice), and onto Integration (second nature).


Like physical or mental fitness, our “leadership fitness” develops as we practice and develop habits. To incorporate new habits, it’s important to schedule them. By choosing and scheduling habits intentionally, application will naturally fall into place.


A habit on the calendar has a significantly higher chance of being accomplished.


Scheduling heart habits like “Responding with Courage” or “Accepting Responsibility” may not be as black-and-white as planning to run before work or reading before bed, so we’ve put together four steps for leveraging your awareness to develop and apply intentional habits to integrate into your leadership.



Pick One Thing!

It’s easy to build a laundry list of things to grow in. When it comes to scheduling heart habits, it’s important to narrow the scope and put laser focus on only a couple things at a time.


Step 1: Pick one thing you’d like to implement into your leadership.

Example: I’d like to improve my ability to listen.


Identify Recurring Opportunities and Plan Your Habit

Scheduling heart habits begins with identifying recurring moments where you’d like to improve or maximize the way you engage and show up. Think about a moment where you manage or execute a certain task, interact with certain people, or handle a certain situation. Then decide how you want to maximize that moment. Are there frequent opportunities where you can grow in the way you serve or add value to others? Look at your spheres of influence (work, family, friends) to identify moments of opportunity.


Step 2: Identify, “When ‘X’ happens, or in ‘X’ situation, or with ‘X’ person, I want to engage and show up this way: _________”

Example: When my co-worker disagrees with me, I want to listen well and understand their perspective in order to make better decisions.


Set a Timeline

Developing habits can be a daunting and intimidating challenge . It’s important to set stretching, yet realistic parameters around practicing your habit. The longer you commit to a habit, the deeper it roots into your leadership. Establishing habits looks different for everyone. Some people commit day to day, some forecast long periods of time to commit to a habit. Either way, it’s important to nestle into a timeline and rhythm that will set you up for success. Once you reach your timeline, evaluate and commit again if needed!


Step 3: Establish, “I will commit to this habit for the next _________ days, weeks, months, etc.”

Example: I will commit to listen intentionally everyday for the next month.


Follow Through

Peter Drucker said, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” Once you’ve identified your habit, decided where and how you want to implement, set your timeline, the last step is the most critical. When it comes to developing habits, follow through is undoubtedly the solidifying component. However, your posture towards following through can make or break your success.


While discipline and focus are the objectives, remember to give yourself grace as you practice, succeed, and (unavoidably) fail. Sometimes when habit practice becomes too rigid, any small deviance can derail and discourage forward progress. As you practice, remember to fail forward. Identify times where you missed opportunities to practice your habit and make a note for next time, and be sure to always celebrate the times you identified the opportunity, maximized the moment, and followed through.



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