December 20; She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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20 December

…She never left the temple but worshiped night and day,
fasting and praying.

Luke 2:37b

How Can We Make Or Break A Routine?

Habit

My report was late. Again. It was the weekly summary of the business silo to The Big Boss and Your Business Professor was forever letting the urgent push out the important.

I had not learned or developed the habit of meeting that deadline.

***

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not a choice but a habit.” So I was late and the product probably wasn’t any good either.

“The following [is] also morally illicit [that is] work poorly done.” (Abela 2014)

I wasn’t getting anything else done or done well. I was beginning to feel like a real manager.

“Managing is a job with a perpetual preoccupation: the manager can never be free to forget the work, never has the pleasure of knowing, even temporarily, that there is nothing left to do.” (Mintzberg, 2009)

But in turning in that deliverable I was acting as an individual contributor with an end point: My work had to be without error and on time. I needed to form better habits.

Years later, The New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg would write a best seller, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Duhigg reminds us of cues, routines and rewards in habit formation.

James Clear, photographer and weight-lifter does a bit better with memorable alliteration in Reminder, Routine and Reward: triggers to do the work and be happy about it.

The habitual key was not to create an entirely new lifestyle but to overlay a routine over an existing habit and find a reward.

These days Your Business Professor will run some fifteen miles each week. And I am doing this without wasting or budgeting additional time. I take the children to their sporting practices and love to watch them compete. I used to sit in the bleachers at the football field. For years I never noticed that there was a very nice quarter mile track surrounding the field.

Now I go to the practices and games (stimulus, cue, reminder) and run (habit response) while listening to audio books on my smartest of phones. I use GPS software to publically track my time on the track that is then uploaded onto social media. The app tells me of the quality of my performance and I will have complete strangers congratulate me (reward).

***

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.”  But there are some things we want undone.

As we establish good habits, how can we stop bad habits? As one wag reminded me, Your Business Professor can keep a grudge long beyond its expiration date.

One of my former managers was living rent-free in my head—I could not stop doing the ‘what-if’ scenario until I learned a simple trick. I put a rubber band on my wrist and would snap it every time I thought of him. Thinking of my former Bad Boss was, indeed, a painful reminder. But my mind and body were soon in sync and the phantom manager quickly faded and I could then stop beating myself up.

***

Sometimes the triggers can be painful reminders. Dieters will sometimes miss meals to control gluttony and this could produce a tangible reward. But it could be a habit stimulus. “Fasting can serve as an automatic reminder to pray,” says singer and writer Steve Chapman.

***

My deliverance of the report to The Big Boss got more consistent when I merged two tasks. Even though the report was due at the close of business on Fridays I decided to hand it in earlier in the day as I met with a standing appointment with other staffers.

The reminder was the physical meeting, the response was to bring the report and deliver it to another office and my reward to myself was a victory lap at the cafeteria and a Snickers® candy bar.

…She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Luke 2:37b

###

A Catechism for Business, Andrew Abela, Ph.D., page 107.

A Look at Life from a Deer Stand: Hunting for the Meaning of Life: Study Guide; by Steve Chapman

Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. 

Henry Mintzberg, Managing; Page 20

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