Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthian 15:33

Have you ever thought about your habits?  Good or bad?  When you go into a familiar restaurant and order the same thing over and over.  Or, have you ever thought about why you always sit in the same place when you go to church?

Humans are creatures of habit, and I’m not immune.  I even stand in the same place on stage when I sing on our worship team.  No reason for doing that. Some habits are addictive and not good for you. Smoking, for an example.

I had dinner recently with close friends in our church and mentioned that I was writing this post. I noticed that they always sit on the left side of the sanctuary.  His wife said they sometimes change rows depending on how crowded it is and have even sat in the middle a couple of times.  “Never on the right side?” I asked.  “No, never”, they replied. They had no idea that they were doing this – it was second nature to them until I mentioned it. “Habits” often become so routine that one doesn’t notice them.

These are innocuous habits – I wouldn’t say they are good or bad, per se.  We all have bad habits – those are ones that we often wish we didn’t have but have been powerless to change over time.  They can be small things – reacting poorly to adverse news – saying words that you wish you hadn’t.  Not always bad words, but words that are harmful and do damage.

Many books are written on this topic, including Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People which was a best seller 25 years ago. It has sold 25 million copies and is translated into 40 languages.  More recently, Tim Corley surveyed 233 individuals who were self-made millionaires in order to write his book Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.

Corley’s interviews resulted in seven common habits that set this group of people apart and the simplicity of them is interesting. The book’s focus is to help one become successful materially, but the lessons apply to anyone in any context.

The seven habits?   Number one was reading – most of the highly successful people spent 30 minutes a day or more reading.  For me, one part of my daily reading is making a habit of reading scripture at least four times a week (see my post “Four Times”).

The second was exercise – staying in good shape physically. (See my post entitled “Younger Next Year”). Since retiring, I’ve taken up distance biking and distance swimming as a means to stay in shape.  If someone whose age starts with a “7” can do these activities, anyone can. Walking or running are the simplest exercises to do and don’t require a lot of equipment. Just do it! as the Nike commercial tells us.

Third was to build positive relationships – that’s a frequent theme  of mine, particularly suggesting mentors in your life. Develop deep relationships with others, and seek out a mentor who can give you objective counsel. (See my post “We is Better than Me”). The Corinthians’ passage above suggests that you should be careful with who you hang out with.  Good advice.

Fourth was pursuing goals. A mentor’s role in someone else’s life is to help them identify goals or a vision for their life, and then walk alongside them as they pursue them, giving course corrections as needed. (See my posts titled “Goal Keeper” and “Ruddering“).

Corley is quoted as saying that you should find your own goals and pursue them to avoid “putting your ladder on someone else’s wall and then spending the best years of life climbing it.”  He adds: “Find your own walls, your own dreams and your own goals and pursue them.”  Well said.

The next one kind of surprised me:  Sleeping well.  One of the key factors in clinical depression is not getting enough sleep. Most of the those interviewed by Corley slept 7 or 8 hours a night.  The sixth habit one was one aimed solely at building wealth – diversify your sources of income.

The seventh habit is one that I liked:  Avoid wastes of time. Time is a valuable resource, so invest your time wisely. If you see time as being important, “it will force you to become aware of how you exactly invest your time.”

In my law practice, I learned something called the 80/20 rule. Church growth experts will tell you that when a church reaches 80% of its capacity, it will stop growing.  Often, 20% of the donors in a church produce 80% of the total giving. There are lots of other illustrations for this simple test.

In the marketplace,  20% of your clients will produce 80% of your income.  Conversely, 80% of your clients will and can waste your time. As my law practice got more successful, I learned that it was a good habit to go over my client list periodically and eliminate clients that wasted my time or were “high maintenance.” By doing that, I reduced a significant time drain so I could better serve the 20% of my clients that mattered.

The challenge here is to reflect on your own habits – good or bad.  Can they be improved? Can you adopt habits that others have modeled which increases your effectiveness?  Do you have someone to help you develop good habits, get rid of your bad habits, or help identify goals and dreams so that you can put your ladder on your own wall, not somebody else’s wall. That’s what mentors are for. That’s what they can do for you.

Bill Mann

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Help your mentee develop good habits that will enable him or her to succeed in life. For millennials, helping them see the value of reading 30 minutes a day is a good start.

FURTHER STUDY:  An article on Corley’s habits of successful people: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/29/7-habits-of-highly-successful-people-from-a-man-who-spent-5-years-studying-them.html

Stephen Covey’s gook on Seven Habitshttps://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People-Powerful-ebook/dp/B00GOZV3TM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480604765&sr=1-1&keywords=seven+habits+of+highly+effective+people

Thomas Corley’s book:  https://www.amazon.com/Change-Your-Habits-Life-Millionaires-ebook/dp/B01CVWR386/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480604986&sr=1-2&keywords=corley+thomas

WORSHIP:   We Fall Down by Chris Tomlin reminds us that we fail but can leave those failures at the feet of Jesus.

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post.  You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

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