Posts tagged "characteristic"

5 Steps to Change a Habit

“When you sow a thought you reap an action, when you sow an action you reap a habit, when you sow a habit you reap a character and when you sow a character you reap a destiny.” Anonymous

Embracing change poses a challenge to most of us. Our comfort zones have the ability to make us feel just that, comfortable and at peace. Stepping out of these zones is a frightening experience, at the best of times.  Venturing into spaces where you need to find your bearings all over again is daunting . The task is arduous at the onset, it doesn’t get much easier along the way either, however, when you have successfully enlarged that comfort zone, the feeling of accomplishment is unparalleled. This week, I talked about a couple of steps which can be used when wanting to change or develop a new habit. I felt it was important to talk about this, because being an entrepreneur requires you to be flexible and open to change. It requires you to change limiting habits and beliefs, which may be pulling you back. Listed below are five steps which may be of help in this process:

1. Identification: Before we commit ourselves to “change”, we need to make sure our unconscious desires connect with the conscious ones. Clarity about what you want to change is essential. Asking yourself what you want to change about yourself is a powerful question, use it to crystalize your thoughts. To read more about identification of limiting habits/beliefs please click here.

2. Ask yourself why: Once you have identified the change you want in your life, the next question is, why do you want to change? This discovery process is essential, to grasp the fundamental reasoning behind the change you want to see in your life. Without this process of understanding , you may discover that you approached change in a particular habit, for the wrong reasons. You may discover that you never really wanted to change this particular habit, hence, you had not found a strong enough reason to motivate the change. To read more about asking yourself “why” please click here.

3. Make a plan: To successfully start a transformation process, you need to outline a plan. One which will be documented, and have clearly marked time lines. It is important you take into account any triggers which may lead to lapsing back to old habits.  To read more about making successful plans for changing  habits please click here.

4. Taking action: We can plan all we want, in the end, it all boils down to taking action. This step requires courage, determination, and above all, belief in your capabilities to bring about change. Life is too short to expect those around us to change, or, to stand still and hope that things will become better. The first step towards wanting to bring in change, is to take responsibility for your life. It boils down to you, and how committed you are, to wanting change in your life. To read more about taking action please click here.

5. Maintaining change: Once we have taken that first step towards bringing change into our life, we have begun a journey. To help us maintain the change that we have brought into our lives some of the things which can help us are, keeping a daily log, developing a support system and rewarding ourselves whenever we reach small milestones. These activities will help keep you motivated when the going gets tough. To read more about maintaining change please click here.

Time is the most precious asset we possess. Everyday is an opportunity for you to bring about the change that  you want to see, in your life. In the end, it boils down to your level of determination and persistence to be the change you want to see. I love the Adidas quote “impossible is nothing”. Maybe that could be a mantra for your next habit change? Best of luck!

Maintaining Change

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Once we have taken that first step towards bringing change into our life, we have begun a journey. Like most journeys, this one will have its share of ups and down. There will be times, when you will want to go back to the way things were, and there will be others when you feel lost and alone. Embracing these feelings for what they are, is an important step on this journey. If we let our emotions hinder our capabilities to move forward, we will find ourselves trapped, and unable to bring about the changes we want to see in our life. There is no doubt, we will fall many times, to fall is only human. What matters is whether we have the courage to pick ourselves up, and keep moving on.

Listed below, are a couple of pointers which have helped me carry on, when the going was tough:

1. Keep a daily log: This simple activity does not require you to write pages of detailed specifics. Its primary purpose, is to help you understand the transformations which are taking place in your life on a daily basis. As a secondary purpose, it serves as an outlet which allows you to express your thoughts and emotions.

2. Support systems: When we are undergoing drastic changes in our life, we need to identify an individual or a group of people, to rely on to help you through this period. Better yet, taking someone on board who also wants to change or inculcate the same habit, is ideal. This way there is someone to identify with, who also understands what you are going through. This emotional bond sometimes creates a force strong enough to overcome just about any obstacle.

3. Reward yourself: This is a tip I use a lot when going through change. It provides incentive to push yourself further. The sense of accomplishment when you are rewarded for your efforts, is a great boost as well. This also helps create a momentum that is infectious, and soon you find yourself hitting goal after goal. Choose your rewards carefully,  they play a major role in motivating you to go further.

Sustaining change is a challenging task. We have to constantly keep reminding ourselves why we want to change, and what we hope to achieve, once we have changed. The rationale behind the reason for change must be based on solid foundations. Without this base, reverting to older habits is more likely, and no one likes to admit failing. However, after having said that, there will be times, when although the reasons for change are based on the strongest of foundations, we still fail. At this point, it is best to go back and understand the reasons again. Was a trigger missed ? Does the plan need changing ? The minute we start blaming our inadequacies, is when we lose hope. Look for reasons , not blame.

Remember there is no such thing as failure only feedback!

Taking Action

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We can plan all we want, in the end, it all boils down to taking action. This step requires courage, determination, and above all, belief in your capabilities to bring about change. Life is too short to expect those around us to change, or, to stand still and hope that things will become better. The truth is, once you sit on the fence for too long, it becomes comfortable, and taking a decision becomes a lot harder. In my own life, there have been times when I have been guilty of such behavior, we all have. However, what has happened in the past remains there, what is important is, that we don’t make the same errors today. If you have decided that something in your life needs changing, and have figured out what it is, and how you plan to change it, then you need to do, just that.

The first step towards wanting to bring in change, is to take responsibility for your life. It boils down to you, and how committed you are, to wanting change in your life.  For example, we are constantly bombarded about the side effects of smoking, in Singapore, they even have gruesome photographs on cigarette packs of what it could potentially do to you. The mind however, is such a powerful thing, that these images are subconsciously blocked. By remaining undecided and continuing to sit on the fence,  it may well be too late when you decide to take action! I accept that it is lot easier for me to say such things because I don’t smoke, I realize that giving it up is a very difficult process and one which requires a lot of discipline and determination. I believe however, that to find courage to take action, sincere and convincing arguments need to be understood with an open mind. Fully comprehending the negative impact of this habit is vital.

Along the way, curved balls will be thrown at you undoubtedly. Certain triggers will appear repeatedly, the urge and need to revert back will often be too strong to resist. However, if you have been strong enough to take that first step, with all the right reasons and intentions, half the battle has already been won. The theory of “Ready, Fire, Aim” is one which I believe in completely, it forces you to take action. There will always be fears and doubts regarding the outcome of an action, the important thing is, that you have taken that first step. Once you have begun to take consistent action, it is now, only a matter of maintaining a momentum to help you reach your goal.

Planning to change?

“Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire.” Napoleon Hill

After we have identified the change we want to bring in, as well as the reason for it, we need a road map on how to implement this change into our lives. This is another critical process which requires substantial time. It is easy to wake up one day and tell yourself, you are going to change from tomorrow. This is easier said than done, whenever I have used this technique, it takes around 3 days to go back to old ways. What your mind needs, is direction. It knows the reasons to change, it also needs to be told how to get this change going.

 An effective plan for habit change, is better for the following steps :

1. Documented: A transfer of ideas and plans onto paper is essential. This is an obvious first step, however, most of the time we neglect to do so, thinking it to be trivial. Before starting any change, write down what you want to change and why you want to do so.

2. Time Specific: Setting yourself targets spread over extended periods of time (months, years) is not an effective strategy. Commit yourself to a realistic but challenging timeline, to help you start seeing results.

3. Identify Triggers: Most habits are triggered by specific activities or emotional states. Do your best to identify these triggers as soon as possible. Once you have list of triggers, you will need to compile a list of alternative actions that need to be taken in place of this habit. For example, if your smoking is triggered by the completion of a meal, replace the cigarette with some nicotine gum or green tea. This is a key component in developing your strategic plan.

4. Create Mini Goals: As humans, we need to be constantly motivated, to continue moving forward. Therefore your plan may be broken down into mini goals, which can be rewarded when acheived. This will help keep your motivation at a higher level.

Using these basic components, plan how to go about your day. This doesn’t need to be very detailed, it just needs to be specific enough, so you can monitor your progress. By developing a plan, you will have a guidance system, which helps keep you on track, and provides you with the necessary motivation to wake up the next morning, fully aware of the steps you have to take, to change that habit!



Why do you want to change?

“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” Anonymous

Once you have identified why you want a change in your life, the fundamental question is, why do you want to change? This discovery process is essential, to grasp the fundamental reasoning behind the change you want to see in your life. Without this understanding process, you may discover that you approached change in a particular habit, for the wrong reasons. You may discover that you really never wanted to change this particular habit, hence you had not found a strong enough reason to motivate the change. This inconsistency in thought and action , starts to manifest itself in different aspects of your life. 

A few questions you need to ask yourself once you have decided on what changes you want, are:

1. Why do I want to change?: When answering this question write down your responses. This will help you visualize all your unconscious thoughts. The number of responses and reasons will vary depending on the type of habit and how deeply it is ingrained in your system. 

2. How is this habit negatively affecting my life?: This question seeks to re-affirm all the negative aspects of the habit. For example, if you continuously lose your temper, visualize how it affects your work, relationships, personality and outlook towards life?. We tend to forget that the repercussions of our habits, affect every aspect of our lives. It is only when we consciously bring their impact to the fore, do we realize the damage we are doing by continuing with them.

3. How will changing this habit benefit my life?: This question should help you visualize what life would be like with a change in place. This is a powerful visualization exercise, it re-enforces certain messages into your subconscious. For example if you have made a vow to stop smoking, visualize how this will benefit your lifestyle through better health, having more energy, not having a dependency, saving money, not having to run to the gas station in the middle of night, being more confident and just generally feeling better about life. These could be some of the things you could have on your list.

These questions will help you put more thought into why you want to do change a certain habit. Waking up one morning with a hangover and vowing to stop drinking is not adequate. When you want to make any sort of transformation in your life, there needs to be concentrated thought behind your rationale. Without this we will continue to make half hearted commitments which will only further reduce our ability to believe in ourselves and bring about positive change.

What do you want to change?

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” Keri Russel

The process of identifying habits and mannerisms that need changing is a tricky process. The unconscious level continues to repeat the process, over and over again, this process eventually leads us to a conscious realization. This realization takes place when this repetitive activity is getting us results we do not desire. For example, over the last couple of years you have wanted to lose some weight. Every time you get motivated to start a diet, it goes well for a short period, then you return to your old eating habits. What appears an obvious pattern is not so obvious to the person on the diet. They feel their diets may be wrong,unsuitable for them, unforeseen circumstances keep coming up, eventually they lose their initial motivation.

The reason why such individuals find it difficult to follow through, is because of a disconnect between their conscious and unconscious desires. Before embarking on changing aspects of your life, there needs to be a process to identify in detail, what you want to change. In the case of the above example, identify if it is your figure, your health or your overall lifestyle that needs a change. Without this identification we are bound to return to our old habits due to a lack of connection between the conscious and unconscious. I mentioned my sleeping habits as an example yesterday. For some time I struggled with the fact that I needed to get up early. There would be periods when I would stick to the plan, and there would be longer periods where I would not stick to the plan. It is only when I told myself that I need to change my sleeping habits to balance my lifestyle, did I begin to make a connection and eventually made progress.

Before undertaking any major change in life, remember you first need to make sure the unconscious desires connect with the conscious ones. There needs to be clarity about what you want to change. It is only after you have identified a particular habit, that you can go to the next question which involves, why you want to bring about this particular change.


Are you resistant to change?

“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” Anonymous

Lets face it, staying in our comfort zones is easy, safe and without any ambiguity. Why would you want to do something which makes you uncomfortable, insecure and vulnerable? Simply because, that is the only way we are ever going to grow. Saying that however, is one thing and doing it a completely different ball game. There are so many simple examples of resistance to change in our daily lives; for example I always told everyone that I was not a morning person, which enabled me to sleep in late. As time went by and my responsibilities grew, I found myself constantly looking for more hours in the day. My habit of sleeping in  late caused havoc with my schedule. Eventually, after many years, since I have not been an early riser at all, it took a great and concentrated effort to change  that aspect of my life. I am sure we all have many such examples about resisting change.

The fact of the matter is, these limiting habits and thoughts, need to be changed and rectified as soon as possible. If they are causing roadblocks on the pathway to your goals, action must be taken. There is the common example of the individual who works a 9-5 job, and craves the excitement of being in a startup as well as playing a greater role in reaching his/her eventual and ambitious goals. It is however, a lot easier said than done, the dependency which is created through a stable and steady stream of income forms a comfort zone around you. The thought of joining a start up, is stepping out of a comfort zone into an area where outcomes are more ambiguous. This is the reason I continuously advise everyone, to start on this entrepreneurial path as early as possible, it has done wonders on enlarging my comfort zone. 

Over the course of this week, I will talk about how to address this issue of resistance to change. Willingness to change and adapt, is a critical characteristic in an entrepreneur. Without it you will be a rigid and inflexible team member and hold the rest of the team back. A true entrepreneur is continuously adapting to the change taking place around him/her. Standing still leads to complacency, and eventually leads to becoming set in ways and strongly resistant to change. I would be interested in knowing about the barriers and habits that you would like to change, but have not been able to do so yet? Has it hindered your ability as an entrepreneur? 

8 characteristics of ideal business partners

“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.” Japanese Proverb

After you have made a concentrated effort to understand as to who you are, you are now ready to go out there and start looking for the right individuals to partner with. This is a critical stage which will have a substantial impact on achieving your goals. Over the years I have either started or joined many business teams. There is a mental checklist which I run through when meeting my prospective team mates for the first time. This check list is made up from my own past experiences and also Jim Collins view on who “The Right People” (courtesy are.

1. The person must share the core values of the business or organization. These are the values which determine how the organization interacts, communicates and operates to reach it goals and objectives. For example there was a charity project for protecting the environment I was part of during my university days. There was a sales and marketing director who didn’t share the fundamental core value of compassion. He was in fact looking to profit from the project. Needless to say he didn’t last very long in the team. This just goes to show how important it is for you to probe and ask whether your prospective team mates core values are aligned to ensure that you are all on the same page and headed for the same goal.

2. The person should not need to be “managed”. When building your core team you need to find those individuals who are confident in their own abilities. If you are the more experienced partner then most definitely you will provide some guidance along the way. However if you are find yourself molding the individual into what you deem are the right behaviors then you have probably made a mistake during selection. These types of individuals who require constant support are draining and slowly become huge speed bumps for the organization. Make sure you select those individuals who have shown a capacity to operate on their own and have been successful at doing so.

3. The passion to become the best at what they do. There was a IT company which I was a part of a couple of years ago which was developing inventory management systems for the paper industry. Being a startup company we were naturally bootstrapping and couldn’t hire the best developers. However when filling a key role for project management lead for the team we selected an individual who had shown great potential during his university days and had great passion for his line of work. It worked out really well and the team flourished. So when you are making a key decision and may be limited by budget or geographic boundaries do your best to fill the seat with the person who has show the potential and willingness to be one of the best in that field.

4. Understand the difference between a job and holding a responsibility. This tip has helped me greatly in making some key decisions in recruiting partners. Say you are going to be hiring a developer for a new website to collect feedback for your product. You get the best coder in town to make it for you. He does what you asked for but users are frustrated because the website is difficult to navigate through or impossible to submit feedback easily. I know I have been in this spot many times. This is when you got someone who doesn’t know the difference. A coder who takes responsibility to make sure that users will be able to submit their feedback easily and quickly would have approached the project differently. So make sure when you are getting a partner who understands the bigger picture and is in line with it.

5. Would you hire the person if it were a hiring decision? This question allows you to look at the person from a different angle. Given that you know a substantial amount of the person would you hire him/her? When I get to meet people outside the workplace say at my squash game or at a charity that I volunteer at, you get to know a lot about the individual. When I ask myself this question when thinking about asking him/her to become a partner with me in a project it puts things into perspective. You begin to look at the individual impartially and can reach a more informed decision.

6. Does the person have a regard for rules, regulations and personal boundaries? I have learned this lesson the hard way as well. I came across what you call a super star performer. He excelled at a lot of the businesses he had been at. So if it were a hiring decision it would have been an easy one. However after working with him for a while I realized he had the sense that he was above any level of authority and did things which were ethically questionable when securing contracts and sales. We started to get complaints about his attitude from staff and customers and had to part ways. So when you meet a person make sure you get a sense of what his point of view regarding regulations and boundaries are even though everything else may look to be in place.

7. Professes a commitment to goals. When you are going into business you are looking for people who share similar levels of commitment as you do to the project. If you don’t pay attention to this aspect you will find yourself in an imbalanced partnership which could result in permanently jeopardizing your project. When evaluating prospective partners look at their past history and whether they were committed to the last projects they were on. Ask them about some of the big decisions they have had to make. Lastly if you are planning to take him/her on as a partner make them commit to particular goals and objectives and use them as benchmarks when performance will be appraised.

8. Integrity. This is probably the most critical yet most elusive quality to immediately identify. A person who has a high level of integrity will be one which will you can rely on and grow a successful business with. To be a good of judge of this characteristic however will take time and experience. I take Jack Welch’s advice here that if your “gut” feeling about someone is bad or you don’t get the correct vibes then it is best to go with that first presumption unless you are shown to believe otherwise.

By running through this checklist I have been able to select business partners with a lot more subjectivity. I hope this list helps out anyone who is looking to start up a new project. At the same time if you or anyone else has any key characteristics that they would like to share please do so in the comment section.