“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
These are the immortal words attributed to one of the most influential persons who ever lived on earth, Aristotle. Thousands of years ago, he had studied people through various sporting discipline and realised the important and priority of consistency and repetition. He became convinced that excellence is not an act but a habit.
The key word in this statement is, “repeatedly do”. What are you repeatedly doing or saying? Human beings are creatures of habits. If you want to change your life, you need to look at the habits that you have developed over time and change them if they are not taking you anywhere.
I agree with one author who once said that, people do not decide the future, they decide their habits, and their habits decide their future. When you are building whatever habits, you are making a conscious decision to building your future. A number of people are being held down because of the habits that they have developed over time.
What are some of the habits that are actually holding you down. We will look at six of the habits and challenge each other to do the opposite in order for us to grow.
Breaking bad habits
I am not talking about breaking bad, the series, I am talking about breaking bad habits. If you watched the series you will also appreciate how difficult it is to break bad habits especially if they have settled. You need to be proactive about dealing with bad habits.
A story is told about one wealthy businessman was worried about his son’s bad habits. He sought counsel from a wise, old man. The old man met the man’s son and took him out for a stroll. They walked into the woods, and the old man showed the boy a small sapling and asked him to pull it out. The boy did so with ease, and they walked on.
The old man then asked the boy to pull out a small plant. The boy did that too, with a little effort. As they walked, the old man asked the boy to pull out the bush, which he did. The next was a small tree, which the child had to struggle a lot to pull out. Finally, the old man showed him a bigger tree and asked the child to pull it out.
The child failed to pull it out even after trying several times, in different ways. The old man looks at the boy, smiles and says, “So is the case with habits, good or bad”.
What is the lesson from this simple story: Bad habits are hard to get rid of once they have settled in our system. It is best to nip them when they are still in the early stages. You need to be proactive in dealing with the bad habits that you have built over time. If you do not deal with them, they will destroy you.
This week we will look at the first habit that is holding many people down. If you are one of them, I want you to confront this habit and uproot it.
Habit #1. Negative self-talk:
We live in environment when it is easy to be throwing in all negative words that you can find close to you. Words build or destroy you. A number of times people who meet me always get shocked with the level of energy I carry. It is actually difficult to pick that I am having a bad day because I decide to be positive even when the environment does not allow me to be so.
When you speak negatively to yourself, you create a cycle of low self-esteem and doubt. With the knowledge that you have with the power of words, you need to master the art of being positive. Focus on positive self-talk and encourage yourself. What are you telling yourself constantly? You become what you tell yourself. Let us illustrate this principle with a story.
The Elephant Rope
The story begins with a man, who passed elephants which were tied up. He suddenly stopped in his path and became confused by the fact that such a tiny rope held the massive creatures. Of course, these elephants could escape easily and quickly. Here were no chains, no cages. For some reason, these elephants did not break away from their tiny bit of rope.
Curiously, he asked the trainer nearby why these the elephants were just stood there. Why were they not attempt to get away, despite it being clear that they could?
The trainer explained that when the elephants were younger, they were tied to the wall using that same bit of rope. At that age, the rope was strong enough to stop them from escaping. As they grew up, despite getting bigger, they were conditioned to believe that the rope was holding them. They never once tried to break free, because they assumed that the rope could hold them.
In short, the elephants believed that they couldn’t, so they never tried. This baffled the man. Now, it’s a strong metaphor to what many of us do in everyday life. We often fail once and never try again. We go through life, holding onto a simple belief that we cannot do something because we tried once and it didn’t work out.
Negative talk ends up developing negative belief systems. The elephant in the story became a victim of a belief system. Life isn’t about control. It’s about learning, and we should never give up. We have to keep trying. Otherwise, we will metaphorically be trapped and contained. If something prevented you the first time you tried, don’t let that make you lose hope. Shape your internal conversations. Make them positive, and you will see the direction of your life.
Imagine if the elephants had tried just one more time?
To be continued…
Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney, keynote speaker, corporate and personal branding speaker commanding the stage with his delightful humour, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. He is a financial wellness expert and is passionate about addressing the issues of wellness, strategy and personal and professional development. Arthur is the author of “Toys for Adults” a thought provoking book on entrepreneurship, and “No one is Coming” a book that seeks to equip leaders to take charge. Send your feedback to [email protected] or Visit his website www.arthurmarara.com or contact him on WhatsApp: +263780055152 or call +263772467255.