“Be the change you want to see in the world” –Mother Teresa
Yet these people are the ones we recognize as founders of powerful companies, leaders of nations, inventors of amazing things, and creators of live-changing daily routines. We credit their intelligence, perseverance, and willpower to work hard and make something happen.
And we look on at their accomplishments in awe, wondering how or why they have been given such a gift.
Except in rare instances, these people are just that–normal people.
I posted last week about Ben Franklin, a well-known early American figure. I’m going to be continuing that series, hopefully sharing some little-known facts about accomplished men and women from history.
But the point of it all isn’t to lift them onto a pedestal. It’s not to say, “look–look what this person’s done!”
No, the point of it is to share their secret.
I believe we’re all creative beings. God gave each and every one of us the ability, intelligence, and gift to be creative, in at least one area of our lives.
But the true secret of creativity and reaching new heights of accomplishment comes in the form of shaping our lives.
I’ve been reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (aff link), and it’s been fascinating so far.
Duhigg has analyzed data from early advertising strategies that made toothpaste a regular, daily habit to why a man who’s had a massive head injury can’t tell you where he lives, yet habitually walks around his neighborhood and back home every day.
The reasons we do the things we do, without even realizing why we’re doing them, can be discovered through careful observation of habits.
Habits change us, and they can change the world.
Habits shape our lives, whether we realize it or not. By forming habits that benefit our lives, rather than detract from them, we can put into motion the processes that will allow us to achieve more than we ever thought possible.
By forming habits, albeit unknowingly, I wrote a book.
By forming habits to practice consistently, I learned to play the guitar, trombone, and piano.
And by forming habits, I stuck to a 30-day fast from most food items I couldn’t have lived without in the past.
Each of these habits were eventually automatic, involuntary processes. They weren’t “fail proof,” nor were they perfect.
But because I formed them, I was able to improve myself in some small way.
I haven’t quite “changed the world” yet, but I’ve changed myself.
Change yourself, change the world.
So here’s the goal: I’m going to chronicle the habits that I’m trying to form. I’ll start small, or sometimes big, but I’ll start nonetheless. Hopefully one habit will snowball into another, and eventually I’ll be able to do something amazing.
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, you’ll find that one of the most prevalent, obvious, and outward characteristics of Steve Jobs was that he was intense. Most would argue that he changed the world, at least in some way, and so we must assume that his habit for intensity–in work, life, and everything he did–had a role to play.
I would bet that he worked on that habit–he had a natural proclivity to be an intense person, but I believe that his life and experiences had a hand in shaping his habit of being intense as well.
What’s your habit?
If you read this blog regularly (or even if you don’t!), do me a favor: leave a comment with the habit or goal that you’re going to work on. Don’t worry about how to make it a habit–don’t even worry if you can’t figure out how to make it sound like a habit. If your goal is to write a book, put that in your comment.
I’m going to keep an ongoing page of goals, dreams, and habits I want to achieve or build, and I’ll add to it as you leave comments.