It’s that time of year again. A fresh start. A clean slate. A time to think about what we’re going to do differently this year or get better at. A time to be intentional and mindful (yes, I used this most overused of words). Every new year we’re presented with the opportunity to think about the things in our lives that we want to improve or change. Yet, the real trick is finding a way to implement and sustain these changes. We’ve all seen this movie before. We excitedly begin the year armed with our New Years’ resolutions, only to realize that by early March we’ve failed at our attempt to maintain these goals. So, how do we make 2020 the year in which we switch this script? How can we figure out a way to both identify the important things that we will really impact our lives AND help us stick with these changes both personally and professionally?
We first need to identify, with painstaking clarity, what we want to change or improve upon. In a personal context, this might mean things such as more effective communication with our family or loved ones. In a professional context, it might mean improving our efficiency by becoming more organized. Once we identify what’s important, we have to identify the specific behaviors that are going to help us accomplish these goals. At High Performing Culture (HPC), we call these behaviors Fundamentals. We call them Fundamentals because they are truly fundamental to our success (both personally and organizationally). This level of clarity is vital.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
In order to get better at anything, we need to practice it over and over. It really is that simple. Unfortunately, while it’s a simple concept, it’s not easy. Many of us get bored or distracted when it comes to repeatedly practicing things. Or, we get caught up in the distractions of daily life and end up dropping the changes we vowed to make at the beginning of the year. Thus, the promises we made to improve our lives and organizations at the beginning of the year end up in the New Year’s resolution graveyard. So how do we avoid this inevitability?
Rituals are the Secret Sauce.
Rituals are the answer. Rituals are practices or routines that help us stick with things until they become second nature or automatic. They are planned instances that nudge us into focusing on those important things we know we need to get better at and are important to us. Rituals have been around for thousands of years and practiced in both sacred and secular ways. A prayer before mealtime, brushing our teeth in the morning and at night, a pre-game huddle before tip-off are all examples of rituals. They are practices that happen without us having to think about them, yet serve very important purposes.
Rituals Come In Different Shapes and Sizes.
A personal ritual of mine is walking our family dog in the morning (before bringing my daughters to school) and at night after dinner. The walks serve two purposes. First, it serves my dogs’ obvious biological needs. Secondly, it allows me to accumulate three or four thousand of the ten thousand steps my Fitbit tells me I need to take. Beyond that, it provides an opportunity to clear my head or catch up with Kate (my wife) who often accompanies me on these walks. The walks happen every day, I don’t have to think about them and I reap the physical and psychological benefits as a result.
Our professional clients have different types of rituals. Most clients focus on one specific behavior (Fundamental) per week. They create some simple rituals each week around that Fundamental. Many use the HPC mobile app, CultureWise, which delivers compelling ideas and teaching content each week regarding that week’s Fundamental. It’s kind of like an organizational Fitbit, gently reminding team members of the importance and application of the behavior. The beauty of personal and professional rituals is that we don’t have to think about them, they just happen. They provide a structure and a process that prevent us from losing sight of these important changes and behaviors so that we can continue to practice them and get better at them. Over time, with the help of good rituals, these changes and behaviors become ingrained in us. They just become part of who we are and how we do things.
Imagine your entire organization staying focused on and improving on the behaviors most critical to your success. It can be as simple as defining which changes and behaviors you want. Then, establishing the proper rituals to keep them top of mind and practiced. A simple but incredibly powerful concept. Make this the year you become laser focused about who you want to be (personally and organizationally). Rituals will help make it happen and make these changes stick.
If you’d like to learn more about defining your Fundamentals and making them stick through the use of powerful rituals, give us a call, click the button below, or consider joining us at Culture Summit 2020.