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Creating Diamond Habits for Success

When it comes to success most of us know that having the ‘right’ habits will significantly increase the likelihood of achieving the outcomes we want.

If we examine the lives of highly successful individuals we find some common habits, they each have some fundamental behaviours that they have developed over time and which continue to serve them in achieving their success. These habits become so well embedded that they no longer consider them as a habit anymore, it is just the way they do things.

Many years ago I had a boss who when he arrived at the office each day made a point of stopping briefly at everyone’s desk and checking in. ‘Are we winning today?’ was his favourite question for me and we would have a brief rapport before he would move on. If I happened to be on the phone or otherwise engaged he would wait patiently or come back to me when I was free. He could pick up in a heartbeat if there was ever an issue with anyone and absenteeism in the company was negligible. Someone once said ‘he holds the pulse of the business firmly in his hand’. He had created a habit of encouragement by touching base daily with everyone.

There was something about this simple habit that generated a huge amount of loyalty among his employees. The ‘extra mile’ was the norm and we outgrew our competitors to dominate our market in a short space of time. Of course there were many other factors that contributed to our success but looking back this simple habit, a ‘Diamond Habit’, definitely defined our culture.

What is a Diamond Habit?

I describe Diamond Habits as those valuable, enduring habits that serve us in reaching our goals. They are embedded in our daily routines and we continue to polish and refine them over time. We have hundreds of habits in our daily lives but only a handful of them are likely to be Diamond Habits. We can point to our ‘bad’ habits easily, chewing fingers, eating chocolate or drinking coffee etc. What if we had as many Diamond Habits instead?

Habits good or bad all have the same basic structure. As Charles Duhigg points out in his book ‘The Power of Habit’ a habit has three distinct parts, the cue, the action or routine, and the reward or benefit. Diamond Habits have a clear benefit that continues to grow over time much like a solid investment.

So what are your Diamond Habits and how can you further develop them? Check in and see how many Diamond Habits you currently have. What are the value or benefits of these habits? Could you refine them further? Which habits could you turn around?

Bouncing out of bed in the mornings is a habit I developed early in my teens and today it serves me well. I used to do a morning paper run back in Dublin as a kid and the local newsagent was totally unforgiving if you were late. If you hadn’t picked and sorted your papers by 6.30am then you would have lost your run to another boy. Hitting the snooze button was not an option if I wanted to keep my job and I needed the money badly so I created all sorts of fail-safes to make sure I got up on time each day. These days I am rarely if ever beaten by the alarm.

Develop your Diamond Habits.

Identify the Diamond Habit you want to create. It has to be something worth committing to and not a passing fad or whim.

Start with the benefit or reward that you want and ensure it is sufficient to motivate you over a long period of time. The best intentions and resolutions die easily unless the pay off is big enough.

Clearly define the action or routine. If your habit is to call a new client each day then know exactly what questions you will ask. If it is go to the gym then define your work out, times, routine etc. Know exactly what you intend to do.

Clarify your cue. For some your cue may be the alarm clock going off. For my old boss it was walking into the office. Choose a cue that is distinct, reliable and rarely changes.

‘Tailing’ can be a powerful aid to creating habits. Tailing is when you take an existing habit and add a new positive action on to the end. For example if you have a coffee break in the morning you could choose to call one of your prospects as soon as you get back to your desk. Tailing takes advantage of your existing habits and recreates them as valuable cues for new positive habits.

Always set yourself up to succeed. So often we set ourselves up to fail from the start. Many of my coaching clients will describe how they have started to build new habits and failed within days. When we examine what happened we notice that they had insufficient support structures in place to ensure success.

Create structures for winning. Never underestimate strong support structures. One structure I had for winning my game with the paper round was to have my Dad call me as soon as my alarm went off. Another structure was to lay out my clothes so I could get up and out quickly. Yet another structure was to have my best friend call by my house each morning and join me on my round. I had set the stakes high, I knew if I maintained my paper round I would get my new bike and the pay off was big enough to keep me motivated.

Introduce a powerful structure to ensure success by telling as many people as possible what your new Diamond Habit will be. The more people you tell the greater the likelihood you will follow through. The bigger your goal the more people you can share with! Better still get a partner or buddy to play the same game with you and create a new Diamond Habit together. Teams have more success than individuals!

Remember that your Diamond Habits will become more valuable over time as you polish and refine them and in the future they may become the best investments you have ever made.

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”

Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

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