Webinar presenters Thom Dworak and Jamey Gadoury answered a number of your questions after their presentation, “Mind.Set + Habit.Set = Your Growth.” Here are a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Thom, what hockey team does your son play for?
Thom Dworak: I can’t pronounce the name of it. Pretty close is, it’s in Southern Sweden, about a half an hour by air from Stockholm.
Audience Question: What is harder? To stop a habit or to start a new habit?
Thom Dworak: Probably from my own personal experience it’s harder to stop a bad habit or to change it. I mean some things are easier than others. Probably my worst habit that I worked on constantly is I’m an interrupter, and I get excited when I say something and I don’t let you finish and I jump in and I know this about myself and I worked in it constantly. I get better at it but there are still times where the queue reward system kicks in and I enable it to happen. So it’s replacing that whole system to react to better. At least for me, it’s breaking the bad habit. It’s harder getting it replaced with something else.
Audience Question: We hear about reframing our perspectives on situations. How can reframing help us in our attempts to develop better habits?
Jamey Gadoury: I love that question. I’m a big fan of reframing and tabbing on a different perspective on what we’re struggling. Whether that struggle is implementing habit or some other things in life. In terms of a habit, I think that the quickest thing that comes to mind is the fact that instituting a new habit. We know it’s hard because it takes time. That can feel rather daunting but I think one of the most effective reframes is going back to the idea of incremental improvement and that one percent and when I know that when I realize that you know what? I’m making what feels to be just a tiny difference right now, today compared to what it was that I wanted to do but I’m actually looking at this completely differently not in terms of a huge goal that I have and the fact that I need to make this big change but realizing that I can actually do these small changes and quickly get to that big change — that gives me motivation. I think the reframe directly seeds into the motivation and I don’t know the exact math on it, I don’t have a clue about it. You know if you make that one percent change every day for a year, you’re well beyond being three times as good three-over hundred percent and if you keep doing that for two years then you start to get to your seeds with astronomical numbers in terms of you’re thousand better times and then and up exponents that we can’t even imagine few years later. That kind of reframe is incredibly helpful to help us keep going when it gets tough and you realize, “okay, I know it’s going to be hard but it’s not too hard and I don’t have to solve the whole problem at once.”
Audience Question: I have a habit of negative thinking. How do I turn this around so it isn’t my automatic default thought pattern?
Thom Dworak: Yes. I’ve got kind of a small habit that I started but it really is working on personal affirmations. A couple of times a day just looking at the mirror and telling yourself whatever those affirmations are, some of the ones that I use is “This is a truly amazing life”. Everything is conspiring for my benefit and I always thought conspiring is a weird word but I actually saw it in a book, “The Alchemist” written by Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian writer. I’m not going to spoil the book for you but it’s about this sheepherder kid who wants to go to Egypt and find his life goal. The other one that I use is, “I accept what I cannot change” and it really comes to a serenity prayer. “To accept the change things that I cannot change, the courage to see the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Then, the last one is, “I have control over my thoughts and feelings and my choices”. That really is an EQ affirmation because it helps me to remain grounded. When I look at things, I can’t change what other people’s views on me are but I can look at myself and not have these constant negative thoughts. I’m not going to let other people’s thoughts or my own negative thoughts drive me down.
Jamey Gadoury: I would add to that. Just the whole idea of reframing is part of that and also challenging those negative thoughts, right? Cause from most of us we tend to have when we’re in that boat of having negative thoughts and dominating thinking, there tend to be certain themes to them. And so I’ve said like, step one: start a document those. Start to write it down when you have a negative thought and be able to track like how often this specific negative statement or that and when you look for themes in it and then what you want to do is deconstruct that and say, “okay, are these things true or to what degree are they true or what situations are they true and what are they not true?” So you start to do some reality-testing and challenges and building a different framework for the content of those negative thoughts and see, “Is this something that’s actually accurate or is it something that I’ve just come to believe or taken as an assumption and so again, document and then start to challenge those.
Audience Question: Let’s go back halfway through your presentation. You’ve talked about the five whys from Toyota. Talk about that concept just a little bit more and maybe use it in an example, maybe the audience to relate to?
Jamey Gadoury: Yes, absolutely. Basically, it’s the idea of when a problem comes, ask why five times, like why did this happen? And actually, I would say that a great resource would be in this case is Wikipedia. Just go to Wikipedia for Toyota’s Five Whys and the instance that they use is that of the car not starting. Why doesn’t the car start? Okay, that’s the first why. Cause the battery is dead. Why is the battery dead? Okay, because the alternator didn’t charge it. Okay, now we’ve moved on to why our alternator did not charge it? Because the alternator belt frayed and then broke. Why did that happen? Because it wasn’t changed. Why was it not changed? The operator failed to follow the recommended schedule of maintenance for that particular vehicle. That’s the root cause when you drill it all the way back down is because the operator didn’t follow the maintenance schedule. Now that I know the root cause and should’ve just treated symptoms, you know maybe not now we say how do we get the operator to do that? Is it educating me the operator about the fact that I need to do it. It is a reminder from the Toyota dealership that you know– fill in the blanks. If we don’t get to the root problem, then we’re just treating symptoms all the way along and it’s just the same process. We can treat symptoms all day long so to speak but if you don’t get to the root, well you may fix something temporarily on a short term or just for this specific instance. It’s still going to cough up later on in some other way, so that’s kind of a core idea that I’m telling you Five Whys, you get down to the root problem. You ask why five times so that you get to the root.
Audience Question: I’m a night person but I’d like to begin waking up early because I’m so much more productive when I’m working early. Is it possible for a habit to overcome natural biological tendencies?
Thom Dworak: Good question. I love it. I would probably be classified as a night creeper, I do have a tendency to stay up probably later than I should, but I have been able to shift my rein to the morning by getting up a half an hour earlier. It does mean I go to bed a little bit earlier but if in part of that. Benjamin Hardy wrote about productivity and why you should get up four in the morning because that two hour block between four and six A.M. is generally our most productive part of the day and if it does mean going to bed earlier to take part, that habit part of forcing ourselves to go to bed earlier and to be able to get up and I think what happens over time at least for me it has is that my sleep cycle has changed, rather than going to bed at midnight or one o’clock. I’m ready for bed now at 10,10:30 because of getting up between 4 and 4:30 in the morning.
Audience Question: Guys, we have a number of managers in the audience and they’re wanting to know how does a leader help other people like the people on their team? Develop these better skills or habits or break the bad habit? Or are habits something that truly has to be driven by the individual?
Jamey Gadoury: I think that on both ends, the way that I think Thom can jump in here, I think we probably think very similarly in terms of my responsibilities to my people as a leader. And so, if I am managing and leading well, what I’m trying to do is as best I can, align the talents set of that individual team member with the needs of the organization. Reducing the times of those two things are in tension whether that’s from reframing and saying well, “you know I actually in the short term think that I want people who are workaholics are here all the time but then in the long term I see that I get burned out, I see that the care of my team is actually not only good from treating somebody else well as a human being but is also good for the organization right? So I’m trying to align those things. If I’m in that position and I see that a person has bad habits then I’ve got to move beyond that surface level of the behavior that I’m trying to extinguish or that I’m trying to implement with that person and get back to it. If some are going through change, why does that person act that way? Sometimes asking that first layer of why is revolutionary in how we understand our team member. So, there’s plenty of anecdotes of folks that have a bad habit let’s say showing up for work late, and we start to interpret from our organizational cultures, do you point and we say, ” that person is a dirtbag because he was never on time.”. Maybe one or two whys. Why is this going on for you? And it turns out that the best person like lived 30 miles away and when they come to work, they stop and they care for their aging parent and then there’s this other lifework that showed that this is truly a person of character completely opposite of what we might have guessed at first. So then we say, “Okay, how can I help with that?” What are the ways that the organization helps you change this in that particular instance? Or in other cases of behaviors, that aren’t helpful or that we’re trying to implement, getting to the point to where the individual and the organization are seeing the need for the same behavior, possibly for different reasons, but are seeing the needs of the same behavior or finding another behavior that is easier for them to adopt. Finding another way for them to instill something. It really comes down to understanding your own people and getting on the same sheet of music in terms of goals and objectives, and as their manager, how do I empower that person to do that? And I do think it’s both ends, because the individual has to be motivated.
Thom Dworak: Yeah, if I may add to that and just from working with younger employees. Nobody can tell anybody anything anymore. There’s almost got to be a whiff on what’s in it for me especially when we’re talking about fixing behaviors that are not desirable in the workplace and really coming across from this standpoint of, “Hey, you know what? You’re a smart kid I really like what you’re doing here.” I have one kid, a young officer who just got completely frustrated when people lie to him and you know I would laugh every time I see it because that’s the joke right? If I had a nickel for every time somebody would lie to me, I wouldn’t need a pension I’d just take the money but it really frustrated him and impacted him how he was doing it and if he didn’t fix that behavior it was going to hold him back. He was a good cop, and on his way to becoming a really great cop. Really good intuition and stuff but it’s just frustrating part of his personality in dealing with people lying to him. And it’s kind of coaching him through it, giving him some resources and you know watching him just kind of work with it rather than say, “Hey, you can’t do that. It’s not going to work with people. He reminded me a lot of myself from people who would try to come and fix me. It’s like, “I’m not the problem, you are.” It here’s how this change could benefit you not only now but in the future.
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