Tap into your won’t power.
It’s really easy to give up smoking, I’ve done it loads of times. I just choose not to for now.
Have you ever heard anyone say that? I know I have, and I know that I have been guilty of saying it myself on occasion too.
“It’s not will-power that counts, it’s won’t power.”
When I was growing up it was the thing the lads did – nip out to the park on a summer weekend and have a smoke. Everyone I knew did it. Well, so it seemed anyway, and I was no exception. I can remember chewing through a packet of mints on the way home too with the aim of throwing my parents off the scent. As any parent will know that will have been of no effect in covering up the deed! My parents had great wisdom in picking the challenges they wanted to address and when to address them and so I often thought I had got away with it though.
When I was growing up it was quite normal for most of the teenagers I was hanging around with to smoke, and my habit lingered, off and on, until after I had married and we had started a family. I always felt as though I should have been able to kick the habit, but as the years passed it became harder to do.
The final breakthrough came when I realised that I needed to think of myself as a non-smoker, rather than as a smoker who had given up and “wasn’t smoking at the moment”. Rather as meeting around the coffee machine or cooler is today, in my early career the smokers corner was a great place to meet up with colleagues and catch on company news, gossip and rumours.
My success at breaking the addiction was accompanied with a plan to continue to meet with my still-smoking friends while not smoking, since I reasoned that I would rather “not have 10” cigarettes, making 10 successes every day, rather than just “not smoke all day” which meant that I only had one success each day.
It is the successes of personal self-discipline that is at the heart of developing the leader within. It is often said that the most difficult person to lead is yourself, and I know that to be true in so many ways. There are so many addictions and habits that we can pick up that are not helpful, and we need to be disciplined to be able to keep them at bay or to turn away from them if they have crept into our lives.
“The short-term easy leads to the long-term difficult, while the short-term difficult leads to the long-term easy.”
~ Rory Vaden
It’s interesting that much of the talk about exploring our comfort zone is talking about the things we do that we find easy. Many of these things are helpful and useful to us in the course of our daily lives. I find listening to and playing music to be in my comfort zone; as I write this I have an orchestra rehearsal planned for tonight as the first rehearsal after our concert last Saturday and we’ll be starting to rehearse some new pieces, and I have a band practice in a few days time where I’ll be learning some more new songs.
I know when I first started playing bass guitar in a band that the idea of memorising my part was so daunting that I nearly decided to abandon the whole idea. However, some of the songs that I initially thought I would never ever be able to remember, I now find that I have no trouble playing along and it seems that what I once thought I would never remember, now I can never forget them. What had started out as a challenge became easy with practice.
In a similar way, I recently decided to start learning Spanish. I found a great little app that has helped me to learn and remember quite a useful vocabulary (although I am nowhere near fluent yet) called Duolingo, and that offers a daily practice for a few minutes, and gradually builds on yesterday’s words to help develop a small vocabulary. HabitBull is another app that I have used to great effect to help remember to do some repetitive tasks on a daily basis, which help me to build some really useful long-term habits.
“The first step in changing your habits is to change your thinking.”
“If you only do what you want to do, you’ll never do what you really want to do.”
~ John Maxwell
Our comfort zones have two areas – it includes those things that we can do fairly easily, and we are happy to turn to whenever needed; for me, this includes things like playing music and driving, and the activities I do for my job. It also has an area where I retreat when I am feeling stressed or tired, and that used to include smoking when I was younger, but still includes things like comfort eating – some of my favourites are dry roasted peanuts and crisps – and other less helpful activities like using sarcastic language when I don’t feel like being sociable, and I guess we all have things we would rather we didn’t include in our lives. Sometimes, however, we just do.
To be effective leaders, we first need to be effective in leading ourselves. We need to learn to develop our “won’t power”, and to do that we need to work on our “why power”. When we can get in touch with our why power, the reason we do what we do, then it puts other comfort zone activities in perspective and it can help us change our thinking, which can change what we “want to want” to do. It can change our “have to” into our “want to”. Then we can start to see sustained successes in building positive healthy habits into our comfort zone and into our daily lives.
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.