‘Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconcious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.’ Steven R. Covey
Creating legacy and behaviour patterns
In living our lives, most of us develop particular behaviour patterns. The extent to which we prepare for a job; the frequency with which we are late for appointments; the way in which we deal with circumstances in our lives that are beyond our control. Recognising such patterns in ourselves and others is invaluable for setting up legacy projects.
Using patterns in choosing people to work with
In hiring people to do a job, I have come to strongly rely on patterns. For example, I found that short-listing people with spelling mistakes on their CV tended to be a waste of my time; they tended to make an even worse impression on me in the interview, and were even late in some cases.
Similarly, as soon as I hired someone, I would start the ‘hunt’ for their strengths and weaknesses through finding patterns in their behaviour. For example, I found that those who were great at juggling various commitments were less good at becoming an ‘expert’ within a particular area. Knowing this allowed me to assign people tasks that matched their particular tendencies.
Twyla Tharp, one of the greatest choreographers of our time, writes in ‘The Creative Habit’: ‘I can size up a dancer and determine if he’s right for my company or project by the way he comes in the door and puts his bag down. That and asking him to come forward and move into fifth position will tell me all I need to know about his training, his attitude, his propriety and modesty, even his charisma.’ It’s true: our way of dealing with the world can be seen in our most minute gestures and habits.
Creating legacy through developing positive patterns
Not only do patterns help us choose the right people to work with on our legacy projects; becoming aware of our own behaviour patterns can help us prevent making the same mistakes over and over again.
A few years ago, I became aware that I had a tendency to start things with great enthusiasm, and then never finish them. I’d start writing a short story, and then abandon it after the first two pages; I’d start learning a new skill, and then stop as soon as I got bored with it. For someone wanting to create legacy like me, this pattern was a huge barrier.
So I set about changing that pattern. I took on fewer things, and then followed them through to the end, regardless of how I felt about them mid-way. I finished writing both my masters and my phd theses despite being sorely tempted to give up countless times. I kept on going to acting classes even after the novelty had worn off. And in the same spirit, I am writing my blog posts even on days like today, when I don’t feel like it.
What I’m suggesting is not that you keep on doing stuff when you don’t feel like it; some people would in fact benefit from not being so duty-bound and not finishing things once in a while. All I’m saying is that I had a particularly strong tendency of not carrying on with things after they were no longer new to me; so once I became aware of that, I decided to work towards changing this pattern in order to be better equipped for creating legacy.
What behaviour patterns are stopping you from creating legacy, and what are you doing about changing them?
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