Hump Day Wisdom: Beware of Habit

We have all heard the old saw, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  Fair enough, but where do the tough go and how do they get there?

Behaviorists from Skinner to Milgram have determined that under stress, we tend to go to familiar ways of doing things.  In an economy that is daily showing us that we have not yet seen the bottom, bearing down alone could be the very thing that ensures a company’s demise.  Balanced leaders know that it is not sufficient to be on the right track.  You have to be moving in the right direction and going faster than the train!

Mid week is a great time to do a little self observation about how much of what you do is habit.  If you had to explain everything you do during a day (every meeting, every call, every interaction with people, computer systems, vendors and the like), how many of them could you attach directly to a currently relevant outcome?  If you had to justify each activity to the “current reality auditors”- could you?  We are, by nature, creatures of habit.  What could you improve if you found 10% of what you currently do is “old economy” habit?

For some ideas about honing the focus of a leaders attention and reconsidering business as usual, I recommend reading the latest crop of postings at Memo to the CEO, Harvard Busienss Review’s leadership blog.  There are practical posts on rethinking risk, refocusing sales and dealing with turbulent markets- and all written with practicality in mind.

Hump Day Wisdom is published to arrive in your RSS/ mailbox on Wednesdays as an invitation to consider a mid week course correction and goes to thousands of requesters on 4 continents.