‘You become what you practice’ is a quote from my teacher @Bob Dunham. I borrow it to illustrate its value in my life. It is our practices and habits that are seen as behaviors by others. We have become what we have practiced for years together and sometimes all our life.
We are late risers as we practiced sleeping late.
We are overweight as we practiced lethargy.
We are healthy as we watched our eating patterns.
We are withdrawn as we practiced being quiet.
You are in a positive place if you have practiced useful habits.
In any case, you are still becoming more and more of what you are practicing even now.
I wish to share some helpful useful ways I have become changed through the new things I practiced:
1. Making requests
I didn’t make them before, or I did it sparingly. I thought, why to bother and hear no for an answer. Practicing making requests has been so helpful and useful. I now get help, delegate better, manage to do a lot, and get others involved where they may not have.
2. Waking up early
I set my mind to sleep early and wake up early, and now I am bad at managing late-nighters! I don’t mind that. Waking up early has been at the core of my getting many super effective hours in my day. In my book Step Up, I wrote over a few months each day, writing from 4-6 a.m.
3. Planning before execution
I am a pen-and- paper person. I have developed the practice of taking enough time to plan before I action things. This has helped me save errors in execution. It helped me enroll others as I can plan better, and I come across as a clear thinker to others. Including in my writing, too- I have a mind map ready for most of what I need to write!
Centering is a practice of quiet, calm, and collectedness. There are many short and long quiet meditative ways to do this. It helps me gather my thoughts, notice my feelings and listen to my inner chatter. By practicing this, I have got some great ways of problem-solving from a place of calm, clarity, and conviction.
Recommended practice: Simple Audio-centering practice I use
5. Structuring my thoughts before speaking
I start by asking myself – What do I want to say? How can I make it count? What is important here? I get my ideas into points, so it is varied not repetitive. This way of thinking allows me to get clear in my communication. I often get positive strokes for my succinctness, articulation, and sharpness. I wasn’t always like that!
6. Dealing with the big rocks
I am most productive in the first half of my day. I tackle the hardest and the most prominent and the biggest jobs first- those are my big rocks. It gives me a sense of satisfaction in getting things done. I have all the energy to give it as I am in my productive phase. This is far better than struggling in the evenings when my energy is low.
7. Learning to say ‘let me finish’
This was a big one for a quiet introvert like me. I used to be soft-spoken before, and many people would talk ahead or speak above me. Just learning to say this one phrase has been a game-changer. It helped me feel heard and accounted for, which was vital in building my confidence.
8. Making offers
Being a quiet introvert, it was easier for me to wait rather than put up my hand. If someone asked, I would do what they requested. I began practicing being proactively helpful. I offer to do useful things and, offer to use my skills wherever possible. This was so helpful as I shifted my identity from someone in the background to be a person of value. This became my way in teams, in family events, in parent groups, and in other communities, I am part of.
9. Guarding my ‘me’ time
As a young mother, I would be all over the place with busyness. I was often overwhelmed and exhausted. Learning the value of carving out quiet ‘me’ time became a savior. Even my kids soon learned that it was vital for me. They would caringly let me be. I guard this time whenever I get to wind down, zone out, sleep, or do whatever I need. It has become a place of great rest and renewal.
10. Smiling at strangers
You know how it is in an elevator- people looking at their phones or their feet! I learned to smile and say hello instead. Learning to smile and say hello in a supermarket, on a train, and on the stairs, in a supermarket, on a train, on the stairs learning to smile and say hello gives me joy. I am an introvert, and it has given me the capacity to connect with a wide range of people. I start with this simplest gesture- a smile, a nod. Be human- it’s a big deal!
11. Being orderly
My kids used to sing this song in kindergarten. ‘A place for everything and everything in its place. I learned this practice in my late 20s. It has been great and helps me find what I want with ease. Objects, documents, working materials, or working files on my computer. There is a designated spot, which it gives me comfort and predictability, which is very settling.
12. Strengthen my thoughtfulness
Being thoughtful lets others allows to know that we carry them in our minds and hearts. This always touches people. If I am going someplace, I ask what these hosts would like.? If I am on holiday, I would carry something back for my team and my friends. If I see something that I know someone might like, I pick it up and reach it to them with a note. If my vendor partners do a great job, I usually send them an edible appreciation beyond a thank you. Bringing joy to another person has made me a kinder human being.
What have been areas of new practices for you?
I will be enriched if you add more to my list, so please do share.
Sailaja Manacha, a MCC, is known for her programs and coaching methods that combine psychology with leadership practices. In her work, Sailaja draws from Psychology, Ontology, NLP and Spiritual frameworks as well as rich, real-world experiences.