The Power of Practice, Part II

07 Oct 2011 4:35 PM | Kathleen Loehr (Administrator)

Last week I talked about default practices – those behaviors we practiced over and over that are now rooted in us unconsciously. The behaviors can happen without us even noticing, or it feels like we had no choice – “that is just who I am” or “I always do that.”

To grow and change, we need to undertake intentional practices. We can intentionally choose behaviors that are aligned with our values and practice them over and over such that they are imbedded in us whenever we have a moment of choice. Practicing “on purpose” is transformative – we build up our behavioral “muscles” so as to consistently act from our principles and take effective action each day to fulfill on what we care deeply about.

The first step in practicing “on purpose” is to ask yourself what you care about. What matters to you? What are you committed to? We don’t practice for the sake of practice. That is like exercising because we are “supposed” to – and we know that does not last. We practice because we are committed to a vision. First gain clarity on your commitments, or what future you want to step into. Then you have a guide to develop the practices that will help you get to that future state.

You may already know this process. Perhaps you exercise regularly due to a vision of health, or longevity to be with your grandchildren. That vision keeps you going when it is cold out, or your meetings all run long. In the moment of choice, you more often choose to exercise because of that larger commitment.

Once you choose what you care about, and design a practice to help you attain it, then the work is IN the practice – the doing it. Ahh, there is the rub! We are what we practice – there is no short cut. Part III will discuss both the difficulty and the transformative power of doing our intentional practices.

For this week, stay focused on clarifying your commitments as a leader and the intentional practices you might develop. What is your vision for your organization? How do you want to transform how you show up? If you have a vision of becoming a bolder leader, you might practice leading difficult conversations or meetings. If you are committed to building stronger alliances in the community, you might design a practice of calling two different community leaders a day to simply connect and build a relationship. Spend some time reflecting, then share with a peer or leave a comment. We can break our own and others’ isolation if we share what we care deeply about and our commitment to practice new behaviors to achieve our goals. What have you tried? What suggestions can you offer?

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