There is a saying about life being between B and D (Birth and Death). So what is the C between B and D?
Not the big choices, like where to live, where to work, or whether to have children or not. It’s the tiny, seemingly inconsequential choices we make each day. Do I do this thing I’ve been putting off when I don’t feel like it? Do I snooze for 10mins today? Do I eat the double bacon cheeseburger? Do I pick up the phone instead of emailing? Do I have just one more drink?
It’s these tiny choices that have a cumulative effect on our lives. We may not be able to see it, but the dividends will come knocking at our door one day, one way or another.
It reminds me that no one is in control of my choices but me. I have to take full accountability for all of the choices I have made so far in my life. The quality of my life is a direct reflection of my past choices. So the decisions I make today, define the quality of my life in the future.
In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear uses an example of plates shifting. They rub against each daily for hundreds of years. But it only takes that one day to actually break. It’s the culmination of small, consistent touches that lead to sudden, massive impact.
Eat one cheeseburger every day for a hundred days. The first one or even the first twenty may not make any difference to your waistline. But somewhere along the line, one day on this journey, you suddenly can’t button those jeans. It’s not the decision to eat the burger, it’s the decision to continuously eat the burger. It’s through the developing of habits that we feel the consequences of our actions.
Conversely, try meditating once a day for a hundred days. You’ll probably feel nothing after day one. You may still feel very little after day twenty. But again there will come a day where you enter a situation where you normally would’ve been really nervous or stressed and guess what? You’re cool as a cucumber. Not from meditating once. Not from doing it twenty times. But from building a consistent, never-wavering daily habit.
But it’s not even the habit itself. The habit gives you the cumulative effect, but it’s the tiny choice each day to actually take the action, to form the habit. Especially on the days you don’t feel like doing it.
Now think about the habits you’ve built within your business. And the tiny choices you make every day. Are they customer-centric? are they even human-centric? Or are they simply geared around profit?
Build good habits within your business. Speak to your employees and your customers. Regularly.
And I don’t just mean those wonderful surveys that dig really deep into people’s motivations and frustrations (I’m sure you can sense my sarcasm here;). I’m talking about the real, empathetic conversations that need to happen for people to feel heard and appreciated. If you build habits around connecting and adding value, the rest will follow.
“Success is the product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformations” – Atomic Habits, James Clear
So it’s not the big choices. It’s a lot of tiny ones that I make every day. Do I pick up that phone to just say hello, do I meditate, do I put my shoes on to go exercise. The tiny decisions that build new, healthy habits or reinforce old ones.
These are the tiny choices that build our lives and our businesses. And if we make a habit out of them, they define us. They either grow us or defeat us. One tiny choice at a time.