Relax as you read a short Zen story:
A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It appears the horse-rider had somewhere important to go.
Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted, "Where are you going?"
and the man on the horse replied, "I don't know! Ask the horse!"
This insightful story is used to deliver deeper understanding to Zen students. The ‘story’ is a powerful medium that is absorbed by the human mind readily. The ‘understanding’ in this story is that – the horse represents our habits. The story explains the way we are usually led in life by the power of our old habits.
The horse is galloping away, directionless, and we seldom realise where and why. We can take charge of the horse, even dismount the horse and maybe choose to walk or event mount a new horse.
Habits are an inseparable part of us & responsible for every action we take. These habits are a consequence of repetitive behaviors over a period of time. Poor habits hinder the growth, success and development of an individual while good habits tend to steer forward an individual towards prosperity and happiness.
Can you change habits and most importantly inculcate good habits?
If habits can be acquired, then why can’t you change them?
Habits can be changed and new one’s can be cultivated. They are not human nature and one is not born with habits, rather we learn and acquire habits. And whatever is learned, can be unlearned and relearned.
Your habits will play a pivotal role in professional growth and personal success. Cultivating productive habits takes a bit of practise and self-motivation and it can be achieved by weaving yourself a good story.
How do you cultivate new habits?
I recently met with a child prodigy and her Mentor – both had a so-called photographic memory. I was amazed at how they memorised long bits of random information for instant and delayed retrieval from their memory.
For my routine grocery shopping, I jot down the whole list – about 15 items on my Memo pad app. I can also admit to being not so good with remembering names, as I come across many new folks during my business meetings.
Nor so for these folks. When probed further, I understood their developed ‘habit’ of memorising longs lists of numbers, items, dates and names. They deployed a habit of mnemonics to associate numbers with rhymes and then weaved stories with bits of information to memorise long lists.
The Mind works well with stories and visuals for archival and recollection. Stories lend themselves to strong memory association as our emotions are stirred up during the storied sequence of events.
The power of story-telling can also be best deployed to form new productive habits.
For e.g. the VP of supply-chain for a regional corporate chose to develop new leadership behaviours (habit change) in the area of ‘Change management’. He enlisted to be coached with an Executive Coach, (disclosure: that’s me) who identified the next step of actionables as below;
· Have a Positive attitude towards change,
· Be Open to people’s reactions to change,
· Ask probing questions,
· Remain focussed on ideas.
At this stage, you build your own ‘story’ and this could be shaped as follows:
“This process of new behaviour development through change of current habits – will be a life-changer and career booster for me. I will not only adapt to the continuous change environment but also lead change initiatives and be noticed by management. By doing so, I will contribute meaningfully to my organisation and have a strong chance at growth opportunities. I will end up being the Leader I want to be!”
This can be your story. Envisioned well during narration this will trigger associated feelings in the Mind and release emotions in the body that motivate you to perform the desired actionables identified as above.
Further embellish your story with the following booster lines daily:
· I am learning new ways of doing things
· I am able to appreciate Change
· I am losing my fear of Change
· This makes me feel empowered and positive
· I’ve had a success
· People around me are noticing things differently about me
· I feel I have momentum on my career goal
· I am finding meaning in my own enterprise
These magical affirmations serve as the glue to keep your resolve together as you develop productive habits.
Habits for a life you love
I can think of six essential habits to fulfill the desire of a successful, healthy life.
Daily Goal Planning
Goals direct you to expend your energy in the intended direction. Daily goal planning keeps you aligned on the big picture and drives your small wins.
All of us have been blessed differently – some have numerical, others have people skills and there are others who have myriad of skills/competencies. There’s only one thing that’s allotted equally to mankind and that’s Time. None of us can complain of any partiality in this aspect. How you allocate time to your priorities defines the results you seek.
There are many who dream of riches and goals but few place their energies to actual use. Lethargy is a common excuse and with others lack of guidance is common cause. While some may choose to procrastinate doing what needs to be done; Now is the only right time to start doing.
A continuous learning mindset is helpful for personal and professional growth. Seek out all learning opportunities and feedback from your peers and seniors. Enlist specialist Coaching support to get to the top of your league, as those who make it to the top do so - Always.
Build on relationships
Happy and successful professionals practice a habit of maintaining relationships and network. Building upon existing relationships could mean calling upon people, meeting and genuinely connecting without business expectations thereby developing quality rather than quantity of relationships.
Look at what enters your mind and ask if this thought is benefitting me, helping me in my goal. Negative thoughts emanating from gossip and frustration only lead to sap down your energies and take away from your objectives. As you would keep your house clean, so should you keep a watch on what enters your Mind.
The Mind is akin to the horse in the story. You are the one ready to take charge on where this horse needs to be directed.