How can you quickly tell what someone truly values, objectively?

All you need to do is look at their habits.

For example, look at the legendary basketball player Michael Jordan. How did he get so good? He had an unrelenting habit to practice making shots every day. When I say “unrelenting,” I mean he was the first person to the gym each morning and the last one to leave. His commitment to this habit certainly contributed to his skill and success. And I guarantee he would plan his days around this sacred gym time.

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.” – Michael Jordan

Conversely, while good habits can be transcendent, bad habits can be just as detrimental.

Look at former NFL star Johnny Manziel. He had lots of talent and also battled addiction. Within the throws of the disease, the daily habit is to get that fix. Even getting proper nutrition and sleep becomes less important than this habit. This commitment to the addiction guides the rest of Johnny’s life and is why he went from being the next legendary quarterback, to nothing.

Habits can allow you to accurately predict the future. You can learn a significant amount about someone, or a business, by observing their habits BUT what most people don’t realize is that not all habits are created equally. When we think of a “habit,” you typically think of something that occurs daily (or multiple times a day). This is not always the case.

The more infrequent a habit occurs the most important it tends to be. Look at your taxes. Once a year, you have a habit to gather all your stuff and report to the tax man (or maybe your CPA). This only happens once a year, but neglecting this habit can have severe consequences.

I’ve observed that nearly all habits fall into one of these six buckets:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Annual
  • Ad Hoc (i.e., as-needed)

Every single business, no matter how big or what is being sold, is a function of habitual layers.

Let’s use a service-based company as an example to see how these show up.

Daily, there are habits like answering emails, pushing ahead client projects, and communicating with the team. Weekly, you may have habits like a team huddle or maybe sending an update email every Friday to clients about their projects. Monthly, you may have to do some kind of executive reporting and goal setting for the upcoming month. Each quarter, a business would be wise to have a habit around making a plan for the next 3 months. And surely, once a year, there is a big planning session to guide the next year.

Can you skip emails for a day or so? Sure, the world won’t fall apart. It’s daily so you can easily catch up.

However, can you skip monthly executive summaries and goal planning? No, not if you want to keep your client turnover low!

Like I said earlier, the less frequent a habit, the greater the impact if it slips through the cracks. How well do you think a company would do if they never did any annual planning? They might still “win” but without this kind of Habit they will grow and scale slower, if at all.

My challenge to you is to look at your business through the lens of its habits. Observe the things you do daily, weekly, and so on determine whether they push ahead the business or not. When you look through the context of habits, you’ll see that your success is directly related to the consistency of these actions. You may also identify there are some unspoken habits, which could be negatively impacting the business.

Some of the most dangerous habits a business has are the undocumented, unproductive ones!

I recall when I was working at a software company, there was a group in the tech support team who would regularly take team trips to the local gas station to get snacks/drinks. Every. Single. Day. To the point where people would get upset if they didn’t do the trip on a certain day.

Think about this: they were pulling the entire team away from work mid-morning to do something completely unrelated to the work to be done. And these trips would easily consume 30-60 minutes every day. When I did the math, only looking at the average salaries, these daily trips were stealing thousands of dollars of salaried pay for literally no work output over a quarter.

Do you think that team would have gotten more done if they dropped the daily habit of running to the gas station? Absolutely! Not surprisingly, that team was eventually dissolved for weak performance.

Be hyper vigilant of the habits in your business, your success is directly correlated to them!

What do you think? Do you see any Habits you need to adopt or stop?