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  • Ruth Dettman

How to become annoyingly consistent

I'm not above a bit of bribery.

Around 13 years ago, I was a confident and organised career professional, working on big global projects and loving my work.

A short 3 years later, I was sitting on the floor of my washroom, at my wit's end, and in the hell commonly known as toilet training. For weeks I had been vacillating between begging and bribing and (get my shame face on) even yelling a little bit. Nothing was working.

What went wrong?

I know now that this period of my life was VERY normal (put my shame face back in the box). I was inconsistent. I panicked too early when I didn't see results and changed tactics on a dime. All I ended up with was hair-pulling frustration with no results.

What my beautiful little 'toilet trainee' needed was a more systematic approach to help them build the habit quickly. What they ended up with was a whole lotta Thomas the Tank engine DVDs as bribery loot.

When I think about my clients wanting promotions (which involves developing leadership skills), I sometimes see, in their eyes, a hint of the same hair pulling desperation that I felt all those years ago.

What's at the heart of good leadership skills?

Is it about building a good network of relationships? Yes absolutely! But what does that actually mean? In my experience, it is a combination of deepening your existing relationships and creating (lots of) new connections. An inconsistent approach on either will leave you with hair pulling out frustration.

In my experience, the bottom line in becoming more consistent (and systematic) is to develop better habits.

Why great habits?

My study is littered with great (and forgotten) systems to get things done. Post It notes, to-do lists, Kanban planners, apps, calendars - you name it, I have tried it!

Having a great system isn't good enough. Getting in the habit of using a system is the fuel that gets stuff done.

And here comes the hair pulling

Why is it so hard to be consistent in building better habits?

Most of my work in this area focuses on exactly that question.

In my experience, the resistance is generally one of three things.

The first is that people view themselves as technical experts and stick to the people and relationships they know best (more technical people)!

The second is that people want to know exactly what to do, the A-Z, of building a bigger and more diverse network. They want to be able to do it perfectly before they try.

Lastly, they don't want to appear inauthentic or awkward if they reach out to people they don’t know very well. Who would?

These are mindsets that can be shifted in a very positive way. Once the shift starts to happen, great relationship habits start to form!

Anchoring a new habit

For many of my clients that have built better habits, one important element is to use an anchor. An anchor is something that is done every day like getting up in the morning, brushing your teeth, arriving at work, having lunch. Attaching a new habit to an anchor increases the likelihood that the habit will stick.

Relationship building habits

An effective relationship building technique is to regularly reach out to people who are outside of your normal circle. The key to becoming more consistent is to turn it into a habit!

Choose a new daily habit, for example, spend 5 minutes checking out and liking/commenting on the LinkedIn activity of 2nd degree connections. Choose an anchor, for example, arriving at the office. If you do this every day for one week, you have reached out to more new people than you would have done in the past 6 months!

From hair-pulling inconsistency to mind-boggling results

What is the one habit that you want to build into your routine? Something that if you did regularly, would have a positive and observable impact at work?

Drop a line and let me know!


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