“It’s so simple, I just don’t know why I can’t get it done.”
The above is an outtake from a recent chat with one of my clients. He was frustrated that despite knowing what needed to be done, he wasn’t making the progress as quickly or as ‘easily’ as he thought he would.
Great leaders work incredibly hard to reach a position that allows them to see clearly where the business is heading and what needs to happen to get there. But marching toward this unobstructed view of the horizon is very rarely plain sailing.
This is a reminder that just because something is ‘simple’ – in that you have a Northstar and are clear on your priorities and what needs to be done , it is almost never ‘easy’. Afterall, if it were easy, you would have done it by now.
An example – dieting
Dieting is by all accounts, simple.
You need to understand why you want to diet and what you want to achieve
You need to buy healthier food and cut out the rubbish
You need to move more
Boom, you’ll achieve your goal.
In reality though, dieting is not easy.
You need to change your habits, fight temptation, prioritise preparing healthy snacks, and create an entirely new approach to mealtimes.
Changing behaviours takes time.
Philippa Lally, a health psychology researcher, decided to figure out just how long it takes to form a habit.
The study examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person chose one new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether they did the behaviour and how automatic the behaviour felt.
Some people chose simple habits like “drinking a bottle of water with lunch.” Others chose more difficult tasks like “running for 15 minutes before dinner.” At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers analysed the data to determine how long it took each person to go from starting a new behaviour to automatically doing it.
On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behaviour, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behaviour into your life
To reach the horizon you have so clearly defined as a leader, there will be multiple habits you, and your wider team, will need to break or create.
- Stopping micromanaging your teams
- Avoiding the need to have meetings to make decisions
- Continuing not to hire that person you know you should, because it poses a risk
There are quite literally thousands of things that will stop us from achieving our plan.
So yes, it might be simple, but it’s almost never easy.
A reminder no not be unfair and unreasonable on yourself,