It’s raining cats and ____. I’m not a mind reader, but I’m guessing you filled in the blank exactly like I would … “Llamas”. How did you know that? Ah yes, conditioning. Wait, you mean you didn’t say “llamas”? Isn’t that how everyone finishes that sentence?
We are conditioned in everything we do. Most of our responses, thoughts, and actions are so habituated, they don’t require conscious thought. I was working with a client the other day who said, “I don’t get it. I go to training classes. I learn better ways to manage time, communicate, build my team, etc., but when push comes to shove, I don’t do those things, at least not at first. It takes me a while to figure it out.” My response was, “better late than ____” (Never…in case you were wondering).
While training and knowledge are wonderful, knowing something doesn’t translate into doing it. We have a very limited ability to consciously modify behavior. Doing so takes time, energy, and work. So when we learn new ways to handle stress, manage projects, or manage conflict, unless we aren’t focusing on anything else, the chances we will be able to apply the new skills are slim. It takes lots of repetition so the neuro-pathways in your brain can make the new connections needed to sustain the habit.
Now that doesn’t mean we all throw up our hands and say,“screw it!” It simply means that if we want to change our results, we have to be extremely deliberate about the behaviors we’re trying to change.
I listen to a lot of audio books, and the other day I was listening to Anthony Robbins. All of his suggestions were compelling, and all of them had merit. I got so many great ideas while driving down I-35. I was going to go home, make a list of things I am grateful for, meditate for 30 minutes, exercise, create and say positive affirmations, and tell someone how much I appreciate them. By the time I got home, I was so exhausted thinking about doing all of those things. All I wanted was a cold beer, a slice of pizza, and my bed!
What happened? My intentions were good. I was really jazzed about doing all of these things. How did I go from conquering the world to being bloated on the sofa?
When we try to do too many things that are not habituated, we end up doing none of them. If you’re trying to do more of something, less of something, or something new altogether, pick one thing and practice it daily. Write it down, put it in your calendar, and plan it like any other important project. Your brain will start building the needed connections and eventually the behavior will be habitual.
Have a great week, and watch out for llamas.