This quote is wonderful. I use it to remind leaders that choosing a road no-one else is traveling down can be a wonderful experiment of innovation. Today though, it has made me think of myself, and the roads of well worn behaviours that I favour over other choices of behavioural avenues less travelled by me.
Sometimes we do things that serve ourselves badly. Smoking, sugar, drinking too much, are easy pickings for this discussion, but I am actually thinking of more subtle behaviours, where we let our best selves down, and consequently those around us. Perhaps we pull out of a conversation too early, or too late, perhaps we avoid putting ourselves in situations where we would be uncomfortable (e.g. pitching), or we always say yes, even when we shouldn’t, perhaps we don't want to risk delegating things, or we are highly critical of others behaviour or work, or perhaps we delay tasks too much, or multi-task.
Sometimes we do these things so often and for so long, they become habits. And sometimes these habits start to become what we, and others, see as personality; extrovert, stubborn, quiet, arrogant, avoidant, weak, easily led, critical, controlling etc. These behaviours start to define us, limit our focus on tasks, inhibit our growth, our relationships and our potential.
Perhaps you want to look for these habits within yourself, challenge yourself to think of the usefulness of your behaviours, and challenge yourself to transform them for your greater satisfaction, impact and influence. If you do, one thing to try is to come out of yourself, look down on yourself, get what is called a meta perspective. The goal is to see yourself as if you are examining another person, so you get the distance required to dispassionately assess yourself. Writing this blog has helped me do this right now for my behavioural habit that turned up today unexpected. Below are the steps I went through.
Self awareness is critical to your growth. Don't forget to tune in to yourself:
1) Get into a new habit of checking your behavioural choices – reflect and look for points of the day where you had a choice, a sliding doors moment, a choice of roads, and see what you did*.
2) Do you have clarity over why you chose this option, how it relates to your goals, your values.
3) Do you understand the consequences to you, others and the task?
4) Review and reflect on whether the road you chose was what you would expect of yourself. How did your habits inform your choice of behaviour and was this a good thing or not. If not....
5) What’s stopping you change it?
*Tie this activity into a regular daily event like brushing your teeth or drinking coffee (particularly works for Melbournites) to make it more likely to happen regularly.