The Power that The Power of Habit Had on Me
I recently finished a fascinating book by Charles Duhigg called The Power of Habit.
It’s a logical discussion about why we develop habits, how researchers theorize that humans may have developed habits for survival and, if you are so inclined, tips on how to break the bad ones.
It is my nature that when I read a self-help or “book of the mind” I tend to LIVE what I’ve learned for days and weeks after (okay…so I obsess).
My friends have always found this trait of mine to be odd and predictable. What they don’t realize is that despite my gung ho attitude, a thread of the concept or practice does, in fact becomes part of me.
I am so much more understanding that the word “habit” can be a positive one and that it’s not a permanent situation that one has to accept.
I now also know that the chronic knee jerk reaction to situations, events and questions is an example of a bad habit.
Understanding the damage bad habits do to a person and understanding the repair good habits can do really fostered within me the ability to “think out of the box.”
Duhigg’s book allowed me to see with my eyes and my brain so many more things within my daily occurrences.
Reassessing Purpose and Actions
Take for example my daily receipt of direct mail packages Production Solutions has produced for our clients. As a matter of policy I am seeded on most of the packages we touch.
In a firm producing in excess of 300 million pieces annually, that is a pretty impressive stack delivered to my office DAILY!
Once I received the pile of the day…my habit (very much entrenched) was to sort by client then check (really loose term “check”) for poor quality printing and then turn them over to staff.
That was it. Why even bother receiving a live sample? Had my habit allowed me to lose sight of the purpose for getting them in the first place?
Realizing I had developed a habit that had to change, I revisited the purpose for getting them…
Printing was not the only aspect of what I needed to assess. It was also important to evaluate:
- Quality of personalization
- Quality of stock
- Correct insertion
- Package weight (if it was mailed first class)
- Bar codes and scan-ability
- Correct number of internal components and insertion order
- Window clearance
- Correct folds, slits and perfs
- Checking PURLs and telephone numbers
- Correct 2nd and 3rd lines of the address
- And finally which list my name came off of (one should always check this on seeds as origination of your name can be fascinating).
Of course I can identify even more things to review, but when you’re faced with 100 seeds a day…you need to focus on certain quality concerns.
What is important here is that I CHANGED MY HABIT to begin reviewing my seeds in a totally different way…and revisited the ORIGINAL PURPOSE of the exercise: in this case, striving for consistency in delivering excellence.
I used to indulge my old habit of allowing the seeds to sit until my inbox until it tipped over and then I’d hastily rush through them, just to get them out of my office!
Now, I have begun to pick out random packages within the stack and carve out 30-minutes per day to focus on this important quality control task.
Now it’s like a “meeting” in my day…a meeting with a crystal-clear purpose.
And it’s working! I am proactively finding things to bring to the attention of my production team as opposed to being blindsided by a disappointing client complaint. This allows us to be more proactive and learn for the next time.
Do You Conduct Your Day as One Big, Giant Bad Habit?
The Power of Habit has not only helped me understand myself but it has also helped me realize the collateral damage bad habits can generate. It has given me permission to revisit the original purpose of each of my activities and has made me realize that I did not want to be “one of those executives” who conducts his day AS ONE GIANT BAD HABIT (where everything is reactive, knee jerk, predictable, lacking creativity, lacking new solutions, lacking depth).
So, when you get a moment, put Duhigg’s book on your reading list…then take a moment and identify your bad habits and your good ones…revisit PURPOSE and in turn, give purpose to those who work for you.
Revisit purpose. Take action.
George Lizama, a founder of Production Solutions and its CEO and chief marketing officer, has spent over 30 years in production management. A recognized leader in the fundraising industry, George served as president of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW) in 2010 and received its Distinguished Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, he received a Washington Business Journal Philanthropy Award for CEO Leadership, partly in recognition of his longtime support of Northern Virginia Family Service, of which he is a director.