Positive Habits, Outstanding Performance and Success

Outstanding performance is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become an outstanding performer, you need to do three things.  1) Stay on top of things in your field by becoming a lifelong learner.  2) Set and achieve high goals.  3) Get organized.  Manage your time, life and stress well.

If you are going to set and achieve high goals, you need to develop positive habits.   I saw a great quote from Samuel Johnson about habits the other day…

“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

This is true for both positive and negative habits.  At first, you hardly feel either of them.  However, over time they can become your master.  This blog is a good example.  When I first started writing it, I decided to post five days a week.  At first, I had to consciously work at finding a topic and writing 500 or 600 words every day – this one is very long at 1,000 words.  Gradually, posting to this blog became ingrained in me to the point where I began noticing things in my everyday life and thinking “that would make for a great blog post.”  Now, the habit is so strong that I make time to write and post every day.  I wouldn’t feel a work day would be complete without writing a blog post. 

Unfortunately, this phenomenon works the other way too.  I like to bicycle.  I ride almost every day in warm weather.  However, I don’t ride very often in the winter months.  And, as the old cycling saying goes, “the first crank is the hardest.”  In other words, I find it hard to get back on my bike after a three or four month layoff.  Once I get out of the habit of riding, I find it hard to get back into it.  Ever had a similar experience?  How did you reverse the negative habit?

Dan Robey is a friend of mine and the author of a great book, The Power of Positive Habits.    I subscribe to his ezine.  On Monday he sent a killer e mail about “going for it.”  Dan talked about your “IT” goal.  The goal that is most important to you.  Dan is a sharing guy.  He has given me permission to excerpt any of his e mails any time I think his thoughts will benefit the readers of this blog.  Dan’s thoughts on an “IT” goal are certainly worth sharing.  See for yourself…

"IT" can be any worthwhile goal:

• You want a career change
• You want to make more money
• You want to start your own company
• You want to retire early
• You want to get over a health problem
• You want to be a better father
• You want to be a better mother
• You want to break a record in sports
• You want to lose weight

These are just a few examples.  Your "IT" could be something completely different. However, I have no doubt that you have an "IT" goal and that your life will change for the better when you reach it.

I challenge you right now, as you read these words to take the plunge, to make the decision right now, TO GO FOR IT!

Because “IT” matters.  Because "IT" can change your life.  Because success is always more difficult than mediocrity but the rewards are HUGE!  Because you CAN do it.

Do this right now.

  • Write your “IT” goal and look at it every day. 
  • Read it aloud and visualize yourself as already reaching it.
  • Play this visualization back in your mind every night as you go to sleep.
  • Create an incredible movie in your mind, picture your life after reaching your "IT" goal.
  • Determine what you will need to learn to reach your “IT” goal, who you will need to enlist to help you? This is important.
  • Make a list of steps you must take to reach your "IT" goal.
  • Make a list of people who can help you and resources you will need to help you reach your "IT" goal.
  • Go to bookstores or libraries.  Read the books that will teach you how to reach your "IT" goal.
  • Keep track of what is working and what is failing…remember you will learn from your failures.
  • Find a mentor….someone who has been successful at reaching your "IT" goal. Model yourself after that person, learn how that person became successful and copy their model. Do not reinvent the wheel.
  • If you want to quickly reach your "IT" goal, find someone who has already done it…follow their lead, they already made many mistakes which you can learn from.
  • Focus on your "IT" goal every day until it becomes a part of who you are.

Dan’s last point brings us back to Samuel Johnson.  You become your habits.  Habits are self reinforcing.  Positive habits will lead to personal and professional success.  Negative habits will add roadblocks to your success. 

The common sense point here is clear.  Successful people are outstanding performers.  Outstanding performers consciously develop positive habits – in their work, their home life, and in their health and well being.  These positive habits become indistinguishable from who they are.  If you want to become an outstanding performer, you need to consciously choose positive habits.  On the other hand, if you want to become an outstanding performer and a personal and professional success, you need to break any negative habits you have developed over the years.  The longer you put up with your bad habits, the more difficult they are to break.

That’s my take on outstanding performance and habits – positive and negative.  What’s yours?  How do you reinforce your positive habits?  How have you successfully broken negative habits that were inhibiting your personal and professional success?  Please leave a comment sharing your stories with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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