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Entries from November 2013

You are what you practice. What are you practicing??

7th November 2013

How many of you have been on a training course or leadership
programme and walked away with lots of new ‘stuff’ to put into practice?
How many of you actually then follow through with this?
In my experience many people go back into the workplace with
good intentions and for many reasons these good intentions fall by the wayside.
I have been coaching now for over 11 years professionally
and one of the many things I have learned is that you can’t bring about new
ways of being with out practice. In fact we are all practicing things everyday
– we are what we practice; how we walk into the office, how we answer our
phone, how we take our coffee, how we read emails, how we organise our work.
These are all practices we do largely unconsciously.
So, as a leader what are you practicing day in day out?
Do these practices support your own goals and ambitions?
Are there new things you need to practice to develop some
different behaviours or to take new actions?
Hardwiring
Many of the things we do are unconscious and have been
hardwired in our brains and our body through repetition over x number of years.
They are therefore automatic.
Consider the first time you learned to ride a bike vs. now
(assuming you learned to ride a bike). It may have been years since you last
rode a bike and if you were to get on one now you probably wouldn’t have to
think about it much.
From a leadership perspective what practices do you need to
be more conscious of to best support your goals? This may be looking at what
you are already good at and taking it to the next level. It may be a behaviour
that you know currently gets in the way; such as becoming irritated when you
are interrupted.
it may be something new that you need to start doing and
haven’t done before such as lead a strategic change programme.
Whatever it is you decide to practice you are building a new
‘habit’ that requires new wiring, so it will take time.
Starting a Practice
I’ve put together some simple steps for you to follow to
develop your own practices that I hope you find useful:
1.   
Focus on
one thing
: Consider just one thing that you want to adapt. This may simply
be stopping something you say or do, changing your internal dialogue, focussing
on how you breath, giving yourself 5 minutes at the start of everyday to be
clear on your priorities.
2.   
Bite size
chunks:
Whatever you choose make it manageable. What will be enough to take
you out of your comfort zone and not stress you out. What exactly are you going
to adapt?
3.   
Practice:
Determine how often you are going to practice. What you choose will depend on
your given ‘topic’ so it may be something you do several times a day for
example: slowing down the speed at which you speak; or once a day – giving
yourself 5 minutes at the start of every day to set very clear priorities for
the day. Whatever you do COMMIT and be comfortable with taking imperfect
action. After all this is a learning process.
4.   
Reflect:
After each practice reflect. how is it going/ What was easy? What was less
easy? What was the outcome? Is the outcome what you wanted?
5.   
Adjust:
What if anything do you need to adapt? What will help you get a better result? Do
you need to change the frequency of your practice? What can you do to make it a
new ‘habit’?
6.   
Celebrate:
Acknowledge the progress you have made. If you forget to practice be kind to
yourself. Your aiming to do something you haven’t done before so take it one
step at a time.
Continuous
Improvement 

The whole idea of practice is that you become the best
version of you that you are and go on to achieve your aspirations. My advice is
always to practice when you don’t need it. All the best performers be they
athletes, musicians, dancers, actors, practice outside of the ‘main event’ so
they can be at there best when they need to.
By engaging in regular practices yourself you will continue
to make improvements and be the best that you can be.
“I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and
what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.”
Will Smith
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