Successful Micro-Habits for Massive Results | The Leadership Secrets Series

The history of life and professional leadership has seen a plethora of research based evidence that our actions or the outer behaviors ultimately bring out the results we want. Not only actions but "intentional" actions or behaviors that can many a times Guarantee Leadership Influence. These intentional actions could be a leader's winning habits that can get them to their destinations successfully. But here's the good news - the winning habits don't have to be cumbersome and intensive that can bog you down. These could simply be what I call, "Micro-Habits".

As a leadership coach I always believe in taking an inside-out and outside-in approach when working towards an individual's development. That provides a significant balance to the development process. Same is the case with the micro-habits. 

To be able to develop and sustain micro-habits, you first need to understand these fundamentals:

1. Habits are repeated actions or behaviors that we perform to sustain a certain outcome. 

2. Habits are formed with diverse changes of activity within our brain that require a certain sequence. Brain registers those sequences of actions and changes in activities that we call habits.

3. Habits may involve components with specific neuro-signalling mechanisms. This means every time a habits needs to performed, the brain needs a specific signal prior to it.

4. Everyone's favorite question - how long does it take to form a new habit? Such a cliché question and the cliché answers (backed up by traditional psychological researches) will include anywhere between 21 - 28 days or even 60 days depending upon who you ask. Our brains are hardwired to take short-cuts, therefore, it likes to acknowledge these numbers, whether or not they work for you. But good to know, eh? Since the habits are formed within our brains (translated in to actions), we need to start or stop the "want" behind the habit. Ask the question - WHY do you need to have a certain habit? Is your brain convinced to form a habit or break a habit? 

"The WHY (intention) will drive your habit formations and lead them to success. Fall back on the WHY as many times to stay on track."

5. Habits are hard to alter. Well, that's why they are habits in the first place. They should be hard to alter. It is important that we help our brain to manage in acknowledging and building habits in to pieces and not all at once. Be simple, yet strategic with it. Let's see what do we mean by that.

How do leaders build MICRO-HABITS for massive results?

Since our brains are hardwired to take short-cuts and do as less as possible, you need to break the any habit that you need to develop in to small components or steps. That way your brain will not be exhausted thinking that you are getting into a life altering change and throw you into a fight or flight response. When the "perceived difficulty" is low for the brain, the resistance will also get lower. That's how you become strategic!

Let's say, you need to get better in giving presentations in your workplace or generally want to be able to communicate your ideas better to others in life. This is what you can do to work towards it by creating micro-habits:

  • Think Macro but Think Micro: As straight as it sounds, go for your bigger goals but be strategic and just think about it in micro pieces. Don't let your brain get wrong ideas and create panic and disinterested responses for you. For the purpose of this example, the bigger goal could be to become an influential communicator and presenter. The micro-thinking should be on the next piece, which could be about improving the next presentation only.
  • Create Micro Goals: Choose one thing (only one) that you'd like to talk to your audience about in your presentation.
  • Assign Micro-Actions: Write down your micro-actions like a small checklist. You have no idea, how much of a good feeling will your brain provide you with every check mark you make on the list. You will feel like a rock star achiever! Examples of the listed items in the checklist could include, writing down the key ideas of your presentation, choosing a power word that you'd like to use on a single day, choosing whether or not you need a PowerPoint presentation, choosing to tell a story and communicate your message in a powerful and personalized way, watching a 5-10 minute video every morning of an influential communicator that you admire, etc.
  • Define your Habit-Triggers: Our brains need some cues or triggers which are either time-based or action-based. Choose a trigger for your brain. For example - every morning at 8 am at work, the alarm on your watch will go off to remind you of spending 10 minutes only to do a certain micro-action item. This phenomenon is followed by many of the phone apps today. I have meditation apps that remind me to spend 10 minutes of a mindfulness meditation everyday at 9:00 pm. It helps my brain remember and not feel overwhelmed with a short activity. 
  • Reward Your Micro-Habit: Let's bring our favorite neuro-chemical rush into our brains by directing the brain towards a stimuli or reward.  This ‘go-get-it’ neuro-chemical is very helpful in reinforcing behaviors. Don't forget to reward your brain or yourself after a micro-action has been achieved. You don't have to go at lengths or develop addictions of rewards either. Keep it simple and offer yourself something that excites you and adds value to you, mentally or physically. Have a variety of rewards to choose from. For example - having your favorite cup of tea or coffee, going out to see a friend, spending few minutes with your mentor to share your achievements, listening to something that ignites you from within, posting an achievement picture on Instagram (in case, that helps you if you get quite a bit of likes), simply sharing what you achieved with your loved ones, etc.
That will bring you to the end of the micro-habit loop. Keep it micro and achieve massive results - no matter what you wish for. Don't be afraid to experiment and own this process. You know how your brain works and what it needs. Leverage this knowledge to the best you can.

"You brain is a gift. It is up to you to use it as a tool to succeed or not."

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Sahil Sharma
Talent, Learning & Leadership Development Professional | Certified Leadership Coach

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