Dear Jack,

I’m reading through a number of professional development books right now, one of which is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The issue of habits is, obviously, a core subject, and Covey defines a “habit” as the intersection of Knowledge (the what), Skills (the how), and Desire (the want).  A habit is formed when all three of these are in place.  If we want to cultivate a habit – say for me, prospecting calls at work – all three of these need to be implemented.  I need to know what it is I’m doing (calling on prospects to explore becoming clients), how to do it (my prospecting system), and I need to want to do it (to help people and increase my income).

I find that the Desire is the weakest of these three for me, and I think this may be common.  I’m pretty good at it, getting initial interviews at a high percentage of the calls I end up making, but I don’t enjoy prospecting – I wish clients would just call me.  But this is unrealistic, and if I truly want to better myself and better the lives of other, I have to sometimes want to do the things I don’t want to do.  Earl Nightingale famously said,

Successful people form the habit of doing what failures don’t like to do. They like the results they get by doing what they don’t necessarily enjoy.

I believe I can still form the healthy habit of regular prospecting calls even if I don’t always “want” to do it.  The desire isn’t necessarily for the activity of prospecting, but the desire is for the end result of it.

Two additional thought along this idea of habits.  First is a scientific study that if you do something consistently for 21 straight days, it becomes habit and no longer needs to be forced.  I find this fascinating – and even though I can’t do prospect calls seven days a week, if I can get in the habit of doing them regularly throughout the week, I can have faith that they’ll become more natural.  Which brings me to the last point.  Covey uses the example of gravity as a habit – in that when a space shuttle blasts off for the moon, it uses the most energy in the first hundred miles getting through the gravity force than it does the rest of the journey combined.  The same is with habits – they require the most energy when we first implement them, but we know that if we stay faithful with them, they’ll become more natural.

I hope to look back on my career and notice very blatant habits – and I would love to be able to see some of those be habits that I had to create, and didn’t just naturally implement from my personality.  There’s something to be said about taking pride in creating new habits, compared to doing what comes natural.  Till next time, Jack.



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