We’re all a bunch of liars, all of us. I am referring to those instances where we say we hate this or we hate that. I don’t like to exercise, I hate reading, I hate cooking. These are just some examples. How can we truly hate things that have benefits for us? Steve Furtick of the Elevation Church has had me thinking about an interesting theory. He believes that we hate some things simply because they aren’t yet habits. As we assess our personal progress and individual journeys, we may find that this theory is true.
Let’s start with the example of physical fitness. How can anyone actually mean it when they say that they hate something that makes them – in the right order of importance – sexy, sleep better and live longer? The logical part of us recognizes the benefits of exercise but that is not enough to convince us that straining our bodies, sweating and breathing heavily is worth our while. When I started an exercise plan this year, my plan was not to lose or gain anything; my goal was to make exercising a compulsion. I would head out every day for one hour and it didn’t really matter how spectacular my time on the road was. I just wanted to become a robot that can’t function without its one hour on the road. When that is done, I reason, I can go on to set more complicated goals.
A Reading Culture
How about reading? Leaders are readers, they say. And we usually get impressed to hear that a Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or an Oprah reads for several hours every day. When an ‘ordinary’ person tries it, he or she struggles with distractions or a busy schedule (yeah, you really are busier that Bill Gates). Again, it seems like all that these impressive guys have over the rest of the world is habits. And habits can be built by anybody who starts modestly and improves by small increments every day.
Another way that we tell lies is when we say to ourselves that we want a certain person’s body or some other aspect of their lives. What we really mean is that we want the body of someone who has a particular habit.
Practice in General
Many of us know about the rumored ‘averageness’ of some of the greats. Will Smith insists that he is deep down, just average talent. And then there’s Michael Jordan (I’m so tired of hearing this story) who once got cut from his high school basketball team. His brutal culture of deliberate practice is well known to the world. However, the popular advice, practice makes perfect isn’t very helpful because, well, practicing is hard. It’s so hard.
Perhaps the trick is to zone out to a certain extent, in the early days of cultivating a habit or starting a program. Taking one’s mind off the results might be a good idea. After all, the concept of learning through failure has become very popular in the motivation industry (yeah, I said it; the motivation industry).
Think about this as we approach the end of the year. At the end of any year, we see that we weren’t in control of many things that happened. Personally, my own regrets usually come from not cultivating certain habits successfully. If you’re being realistic, you may find that until you make some things into a habit, you have no right to set certain goals that require specific habits.