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Are Old Habits Holding Your Company Back?

Tug of war

by Mark Samuel

In the middle of a recent coaching session, a CEO complained:

“I shared our new vision and mindset change in an All-Hands Meeting. People were inspired, asked questions about it, and committed to act! But it’s been 3 months and I haven’t seen any significant change!” 

It’s easy to blame people for not taking action on a new mindset. And it’s pointless. New mindsets don’t change behavior. I wish they did. I would be much thinner today.

While a new mindset can feel inspiring, motivating, and create a clear desire for change, we are held back by our habits that are locked into place by years of repetition. Habits are the behaviors we exhibit without having to think about it – they are automatic! When we create a new mindset (new way of thinking), it has no impact on our embedded habits of behavior, which bypass our thinking mechanism. That’s what leads us to failure, frustration, and self-judgment when our motivation doesn’t result in new behavior.

To get different results, we must translate our new mindset into new habits of collective behavior and execution, and the only way to change a habit is to replace an old habit with a new one.

Launching a B STATE Transformation

Part 4: Developing New Habits of Collective Execution

At this point, companies often want to introduce skill building and training as the solution, but this doesn’t solve this issue, because we can learn new behaviors, but they aren’t generally strong enough to overcome our set habits that we have engrained for years.

While we have demonstrated this approach for over 30 years, the most recent book on Habits, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg describes this process.

A Simple Process for Developing New Habits

Changing habits aren’t easy, because it involves stopping the old automatic behavior, replacing it with a new behavior, and practicing it over and over again until the new behavior becomes automatic.

1)  Forget About Your Old Habits

The biggest mistake people make when changing their habits is to assess their old habits, thinking they need to understand the old to come up with something different. The problem is that it reinforces what hasn’t worked. Let go of your old habits and place your focus on what you want to accomplish.

2)  Expand Your Relationships

Identify any behaviors described in your Picture of Success/New Mindset and ask yourself the question, “What would I be doing differently to think, behave, react, and act consistently with my Picture of Success and New Mindset?”

3)  Develop a Step-by-Step Description of Thinking & Behaviors

Thinking in sequential order, identify what thinking or behaviors you would do differently to be living in your B STATE Picture of Success. For instance, when a company’s Picture of Success included needing to make decisions more quickly and effectively, they wrote:

  1. Be clear about the purpose and impact of your decision (The Why)
  2. Include anyone impacted by the decision you are making
  3. Identify the criteria for making the decision based on your Picture of Success, including timeframe
  4. Develop recovery plans for anyone negatively impacted by the decision
  5. Communicate that decision with an aligned message
  6. Evaluate implementation and make modifications as necessary

4)  Establish a Tracking System for Use of the New Habit

Whatever you track, you will focus upon. This method is used by professional athletes, sales people, and CEOs when they are driving for results. Make it simple and check in on a daily basis to determine if you are using the new habit consistently. Remember, repetition is critical, but at first you have to slow your process down to be deliberate in remembering to use the new habit instead of going into automatic response.

5)  Identify Your Support System 

It is much harder to change habits by yourself, especially when others demonstrate your old habit. For example, it’s really hard to stay on your diet of eating vegetables and protein when your family or co-workers are eating pizza – in front of you!

Identify those who are kind and respect your boundaries and goals as an accountability buddy or team. They can help you gently hold yourself accountable by providing encouragement to stay the course of  implementing your new habits.

6) Recognize Small Wins and Progress

Changing habits generally doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to celebrate any small wins, including just using the new habit, using it consistently, doing better than the day before, getting a good result from the habit, and acknowledging anyone who helps you in developing that new habit. These are all examples of wins.

Once you are clear on creating and implementing your new habits of execution, you are closer than you think to manifesting your Picture of Success! It’s very exciting to see your dreams come true.

Want to learn more about Launching a B STATE Transformation? Read on to Part 5:

If you missed Parts 1 – 3 of Launching a B STATE Transformation, click links below to catch up:


Learn all about B STATE strategies
in my new book at 


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