Better Leadership: How To Consciously Break And Transform Bad Habits

Shifting our thoughts and actions to create lasting change that contributes to the Common Good

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Art by Warwick Goble, PD

“How can I best serve my purpose, my team/employees/clients/customers right now, this week, and for the long haul? How can I create a healthy, thriving system that is sustainable, transparent, and energizing — for the long haul?”

The real answers require extra effort, time, and resources. We may need to consult with experts, conduct experiments and trial runs internally with the team, we may need to stop productivity to deal with internal issues or conflicts that need to be addressed, mended, and restored.

All of this is applicable to each of us. We are the ethical leaders of our lives, or not. We are the administrators of our lifestyles and habits.

In the face of challenges and setbacks, the patience to grow real, lasting change remains a core value for the ethical leader. The big picture is not lost, the big goal is kept central during setbacks. And, core motivation includes knowing that: facilitating healthy restoration of systems (relational, environmental, etc.) eventually translates into returns and legacies of lasting value. In this same way, each of us may apply values and more sustainable practices, in order to navigate and wield the authority of leadership for our own lives, and increasingly, in the best ways possible.

Begin With Yourself: Understanding Habits

This approach and these lessons are adaptable and applicable for most everyone. But where to start? We want to begin the long, demanding, and worthwhile, rewarding path by being aware of and changing our own habits and autopilot blind assumptions/norms. In beginning this process on the personal level, we may then effectively respond to changing needs, emergency situations, and a troubled human world and Environment in flux.

HABIT is defined as: “something done often and regularly; a behavior or action repeated regularly so as to have become automatic.”

Some synonyms for HABIT include: routine, pattern/norm.

The idiom, to be “on automatic pilot” can be defined as: “completing a task without awareness or thinking because it has been repeated so many times that the function is automatic.”

With autopilot, in this sense, the meaning also connotes a degree of unconscious, mindless behavior.

Many parts of operating and driving a vehicle become habitual — we go on autopilot with many aspects of driving. We also operate with a good measure of trust for the maps in our memories that help us to navigate in the area in which we live without much, if any, thought. It is much the same in navigating and operating within our homes and at work each day. Some of us have mental memory maps so well-defined and subtly present in our neural pathways that we can even walk with our eyes closed (or in the dark) and find our way around the house (or neighborhood) with little to no problems.

Inner Peace Matters

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Art by William Blake, PD

Yard Restoration

I have moved into two different houses where the yards needed restoration. The first had been treated by pesticides for years, but had fertile soil, and lots to work with. It took about three years for the yard to fully recover — and became a thriving oasis of native plants and a refuge for wildlife. The second also had been treated for pesticides at one time, and the soil was greatly depleted and mostly sand. This yard has taken longer to recover, and still can’t fully recover without amending the soil. A big leap to lushness and progress was not evident until five years had passed. That being said, I am no expert in restoring yards, and I do the little by little approach in that regard. Additionally, this second yard hasn’t been a main priority like the other was. In aiming to restore the second yard — without expertise, or a lot of dedicated time, or a lot of invested money/resources — the long term results took longer.

Consciously Changing Habits

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Art by Warwick Goble, PD
  • Noticing and consciously choosing which thoughts are maintained?
  • Happy with our personal process and the results?
  • Noticing and addressing details, feelings, needs, inspiration? or ignoring them?
  • Noticing harmful elements, ingredients, or dynamics? or ignoring them?
  • Making the most of the choices available each day?
  • Allowing ourselves to remain in a rut of looped thoughts?
  • Allowing ourselves new options, new thoughts, new approaches?

Truth Telling

It can be, and is important that we share our process and discoveries (when we can, and as appropriate) with straightforward honesty, integrity, and reasonable kindness. Sometimes the truth is ugly though. Do we wrap it in kindness? Whenever possible, yes. Still, absolute gentleness at all times is not possible or realistic. There are exceptional times when even kind honesty can feel harsh. And there are times when being too kind and too forgiving is a disservice to ourselves and others.

Written by

C.S. Sherin, MA, is a writer, poet, and artist who creates engaging content across genres; and provides specialized editing services at wildclover.org.

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