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Lorenzo Paoli
The Habits Coach
Lorenzo Paoli » Blog @en
The Growth Habit
Jogger silhouette running on the beach at sunset

When we think about routines, we immediately think about something tedious. However, routines are the mechanisms that make athletes win the Olympic Games, make companies great and let us reach extraordinary sales results.
Building excellent habits is the foundation of our success: if we rely on “heroic sales”, i.e. rare successes that cannot be easily repeated, we will barely survive.
The problem is that routines may become the aim of our day. “I do what I need to, then I’m done!”. Moreover, times change, but we keep the same behaviors. When we do not get the results we want, we get shocked because “we worked so hard!” and we say to ourselves “even though I working hard, I don’t get results. It must be the crisis!” Successful routines are not as we imagine. Usually we think that routines are circular, something that keeps repeating. Actually, the most effective habits are spiral-shaped, and their diameter keeps growing.

When we build our routines, we are deciding bout our future as well, so we need to be ambitious. Very. This is not motivational pep talk. An ambitious attitude is strategic. When we set a goal, we plan actions that will lead us to the final result. the problem is, the environment has many hindrances: changes, the crisis, competition, price wars. So, often we risk reaching only average results, much below our expectations. This effect is very well known by airplane pilots, because in commercial flights they adopt a technique, called “crabbing”, to go against the winds that would push the plane our of its route. to reach the final destination and land safely, pilots need to gear up and push with the engines, often in a different direction from the route, to off-set the effect of the gushing winds. Being ambitious means aiming very high, and, at the same time, adopting behaviors and habits supporting that goal. These will necessarily be very different behaviors, more intense and creative, which will help you off-set the winds going against you in the market and in your life.

  • Define a very ambitious destination: the ideal situation for you. It cannot be irrealistic, but it should be absolutely challenging. This is your guiding star, that shows you the direction to take.
  • define the behaviors and attitudes needed to reach that goal. Be creative: you will surely need to adopt new behaviors. You will notice that often you will behave as the “successful people” in your sector you read about in the newspaper.
  • Adopt effective, intense behaviors, do not simply work longer hours. Often, this is not useful. What are the actions that really make a difference?
  • Exercise regularly. It will help you balance the energy you used and will give you a deep feeling of well-being and vitality. Running is great. It helps you “meditate”, and it keeps you fit and healthy. Many creative ideas occur to us while we are not working.

Routines of this kind create a “domino effect” which represents the secret of many people in successful companies.

In 2001 a physicist at the Exploratorium research centre in San Francisco, created 8 domino bricks, one 50% bigger than the previous one. Another researcher, Lorne Whitehead, indeed, some years earlier, found out that one domino brick could make another one, 50% bigger, fall. The result? One brick, a few inches high, thanks to this growing progression, could make the eighth fall, that was more than 3 feet high. If the physicist had continued, the brick n. 31 would have been 350 feet higher than Mount Everest.

Success in one sector comes from first, small steps, leading to bigger, more challenging ones. It is not a linear path: we need habits and attitudes leading to a geometrical progression. First of all, success in one sector is sequential: often doing many things at the same time and making everybody happy is a waste. That is why, especially nowadays, it is easier to grow in a niche, and then become popular for the masses.

The domino effect can be create with some special habits:

  1. Visualize the result we want and calculate the milestone “dominos” we need. Reviewing the path regularly is important, to check whether we are growing enough.
  2. We need to ask ourselves what we MUST do next, not what we CAN. The step will be more challenging, but it will give us much greater results. Otherwise, we risk to walk on the same rad for years, without growing.
  3. When we encounter a hindrance, it maybe means that the “domino” we are trying to put down is too big. Let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves: “what other steps are needed to get over this?”

Article published on V+, leading Italian sales magazine.