There is one main characteristic of the waterfall to think about in relation to our habits and ultimately our performance impact…the water that makes it what it is - never really stops. It keeps moving - always chasing a momentum. For example - over thousands of years the only time it has been recorded that Niagara Falls stopped [ the image location ] was March 29-31, 1848. We were informed - during a family holiday - that this was apparently due to an ice jam at the mouth of Lake Erie. Yes - there have been times the falls have frozen over - but not completely frozen and even when frozen... it still had water flowing under the surface ice. The water and the waterfall has kept moving - kept momentum for thousands of years. Water in such an environment cannot help but follow a simple principle… move toward to an ocean - a singular focus and direction it can do nothing else.
Our daughter made a remark during this insight into the falls that caught my attention - "I'd like to become like the water of the falls - a person that calms, yet inspires onlookers and who never stops in the pursuit of end goals I have set for myself. An profound insight for a sixteen year old. With an age of experience, many of us may unintentionally block such an ideal ambition with the equivalent of a verbal 'dam' - 'Yeah... we all want that - but it is easier said than done'.
All too often we can be blocked from continuing at pace towards our goal - often by the smallest of obstacle. Yet - water does not do this - it keeps striving to move forward, building up energy - ready to once again be a creator of momentum! Even when Niagara Falls was blocked - the water kept pushing through the dam until that evening in late March when it began its free flowing form once again. Making Your Own Momentum Matters...
So - exactly how do we stay the course in the context of the current COVID environment that holds little resemblance to any other time in history? How can we be better tomorrow - better at rarely stopping - pushing past the pressures/obstacles and then... being even better the next day. How do we develop a persistence and perspective that is not concerned with outcomes we cannot control - and - be more concerned with doing things the right way - and - consistently moving in the right direction for who we want to be... despite the inevitable opposing forces.
3 Small Habits // Massive Impact ROI
Speaking with an already high performing client this week - he openly declared how he had begun applying 3 new - seemingly small, simple and previously unappreciated habits. Which - in return had increased his performance momentum and impact - both with others and himself. Just 3.
He had - for 126 days straight - kept a journal record of the 3 habits in action. Now - unlike most of us that read about / watch or listen to the benefits and 'how to' of adopting new, exciting and well researched habits [ in this case: Gratitude. Kindness/Empathy. Mindfulness/Focus ] - he chose to do something and incorporate them - despite not being sure if they would really make a difference. He decided to commit to the challenge first - not the uncontrollable outcome - 'to start and stay the course' - to keep moving forward despite his already 'back to back schedule'. [ ie the dam ]
To be candid - there are limitless small habits to deploy that will build a momentum and waterfall effect for you... here are the 3 simple habits he acted on after listening to an audio book. These aren't new - you have most likely already read the research on them - nor do they require a depth of skill beyond our abilities to acquire. Yet - most of us will be interested in them- but not committed with them. Like all behaviours - they require simple set up and structure... deliberate practice and slowly building up the momentum... for the waterfall impact to come. And come it will - of its own natural accord.
.01 Daily Gratitude Practice // Understand, Accept and Note down each day - What are the best 3 things that happened to you today? A quick, mindful reflection on the days many, many moments... and finding just 3 that you are simply grateful for. Respecting that what you have right now... is actually enough right now. Yes - we often want more - could do more or be more... and yet keeping our attention, perspective and gratitude grounded in just 3 things that we have/did today... is more likely to create and build our momentum. [
.02 Daily Kindness - Intention Setting // Plan & do something kind for someone today - for even just one person. The act of thinking about 'that particular act of kindness' starts to trigger our own emotions - and beginning to label our emotions - is something that not a lot of us think carefully or mindfully about. We have all spent years at school trying to understand our native language to become literate - this is about a small investment in becoming emotionally literate.
Imagine a difficult meeting that you are going to have today. If you think it might be a difficult meeting... how might that other person be experiencing the moments prior as well? Set your intentions in prep- Imagine exactly how you want this vital stakeholder - at that meeting - to feel during and after the meeting as a result of engaging with you? What will it do for your relationship if you are thinking/feeling from their perspective - walking in their shoes more? Are they more likely to listen to your insights if they sense a kindness and connection from you? How will it make you feel - in the moment - if you treat them with abundance and respect? Kindness is a muscle - that when exercised - has a compound affect. Kindness doesn't exclude 'having hard conversations' in a business setting. In fact - if you are truly being kind to them and yourself... you will have the conversation because it is the right thing to do. You will learn, explore and practice how to do it - in a safe way - rather than avoid it all together.
.03 Daily Mindfulness & Attention Control Practice // Create six minutes for every sixty to pay attention to what's happening right now. How you're feeling &/or how others might be feeling around you. Catch your attention and learn to control it and focus it for longer and longer periods of time. We often hear many objections and reasons that people 'can't do' mindfulness. In this moment - that may be accurate. And yet - if we are able to slow down our breathing and thoughts - if only for a moment - we will start to build up our mental and emotional capacities. How exactly:
_ we can be grateful for having the ability to hold our attention - if only for a few moments to begin with - noticing that we can hold it ever so slightly longer each and every time we practice. "A few seconds to begin with is enough...I can practice again later."
_ by being kind to ourselves - not just others. Accepting that it is normal for anyone to struggle learning a new skill 'off the bat' and that it will take the character of the waterfall - movements of persistence in order to build momentum and the capacity. Saying to yourself; "I struggle a little doing this for long periods" - rather than - "I am not able to do this."
_ by practicing the control of our attention. We all accept that we can't build strong physical muscles without regularly exercising more than once a week - so truly accepting that it is the same for our emotional and mental muscles as well... will ignite the process for increasing the strength in these areas as well. Remember - If we are unconsciously practicing frustration, rumination and worry on an hourly or regular daily basis - that is - 'literally like building our own dam'. Yes -things will get in the way - that is normal. This is about a choice and commitment to Make Mindful Momentum your new normal.
If new - even small and seemingly simple behaviours are intentionally practiced daily - [ ie movement of the water under the ice ] - we can generate a sense of power, connection and fulfillment towards our identity and ambitions. If we deliberately practice small habits daily - and they don't create 'the force and impact we seek'... we are still free and able to adapt - to move around the obstacle and seek out new habits that just might. Kind, Grateful and Mindful Momentum matters...
As always... we would be keen to hear you thoughts and how you go about creating the waterfall effect.