James Clear on Why Habits Are the Foundation of Business Development Success

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By Alexa Ward

James Clear, author of the best-selling book Atomic Habits, shares the importance of creating a system of habits that makes reaching your goals simple.

James Clear, author of the best-selling book Atomic Habits, shares the importance of creating a system of habits that makes reaching your goals simple. Mo applies the principles of Atomic Habits directly to the world of business development and shows you how starting small can create huge results in your business.

This is an encore presentation of an episode that aired on June 11, 2020.

  • James Clear recounts the story of the high school baseball bat incident, how he realized that something had gone horribly wrong and how he found himself fighting for his life.
  • People are building habits all the time, but when your life is completely changed by a traumatic injury, you have to start as small as possible in order to rebuild them. Scaling down to what James could manage was how he was able to regain a sense of control over the life that he’d lost.
  • You don’t have control over the random events that come your way, but you do have control over how you respond to those things and that usually comes down to your habits.
  • Most people start with one foot in expertise and become great at what they do but once they reach the next level of success, they find themselves in a completely different world. This can often lead to them feeling defeated since they aren’t as skilled in the new area.
  • Goals are helpful for setting a direction or a filter but they come with a lot of drawbacks. Your goal is your desired outcome, but your system is the collection of daily habits that you follow. If there is ever a gap between your system and your goal, your daily habits will always win. Whatever results you have right now are by definition the byproduct of the system you’ve been running.
  • It’s common in business for people to focus on the position or outcome, like doubling revenue or leads, but it’s more important to look at the system that’s running and the trajectory that business systems are driving towards.
  • We want our results to change, but it’s not the results that need to change, it’s the habits that precede the result that need to change. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves. Goals are useful as check-ins, but more time should be invested into the system of habits that lead to the outcome you want.
  • The Snowball system’s structure of lead and lag measures is very similar. Everybody is running systems whether they realize it or not. The questions you need to ask yourself are “How do I design a good system?” and “Which habits should I build?” This is where BIG goals come in to send you in the right direction.
  • There are three main things that impact your outcomes in life. The first is luck, the second is your choices/strategy, and the third is your system of habits and behaviour. When you master the last two, you increase the surface area for good luck to come your way.
  • People will often conflate the outcome they want to achieve with the person that they want to be. James believes you should shift the focus to the identity you desire instead of the goal because the real reason habits matter is that they can shape your sense of self. True behavior change is really identity change.
  • Another way of reshaping your identity is to reframe your goal into a question. Instead of trying to close more deals, ask yourself what a successful sales person would do and then use that to select the action that moves you in the right direction.
  • Questions are superior to advice because advice is contextual and situations change. Life is dynamic and advice will not always fit the circumstances. Identity-based questions guide you based on the situation.
  • There are four fundamental things that increase the odds of getting a habit to stick. The first is to make your good habits obvious and easy to see. The second is to make them attractive and appealing. The third is to make them easy and convenient. The fourth is to make your habits satisfying and associated with a positive emotion. If you want to break a bad habit, just invert those four.
  • When it comes to business development, we should look for one-time actions we can take that will help the cause every day from that point on to help mitigate the roller coaster that businesses tend to ride most of the time.
  • A lot of business development is done through a screen. Is there an app or a tool that you can use to make business development more obvious and prime yourself and your environment for that use?
  • James talks about the idea of the Temptation Bundle, where you combine a task that you know you should do with a task that you want to do in order to encourage the more important action.
  • Don’t let one piece of silence prevent you from following up. A failure should not be desired but it should be planned for. When following up, there will also be people who ignore your efforts, but by writing down your next follow-up in your calendar, you will be many times more likely to keep following up.
  • Life has a series of seasons and your habits should be different depending on the season of life you’re in. The same idea can be applied to your career. When you reach a new level it will probably require new habits in order to succeed.
  • As your career progresses, typically, your responsibility increases. When your responsibility increases your ability to say no to things and to prioritize also needs to increase. Saying no to something is only saying no to one thing, but saying yes to something means saying no to everything else. Everything comes with a trade-off.
  • If you’re going through a change of season in your career or your life, it may be the perfect time to reread Atomic Habits. The process of building habits is essentially rebuilding and getting started over and over as your life changes.
  • In business development, the goal is not to be the absolute best in the world, it’s just to be a little bit better than your competition. Business is mostly a winner-take-all proposition so put yourself in a position to make more shots and improve your craft, and each day you will be more likely to win.
  • Start with doing something small every single day when you don’t know where to begin. Any goal you have can be broken down into a two-minute chunk that will help you master the art of showing up. A habit must be established before it can be improved. It has to become the standard in your life before you can optimize and scale it up and expand it into something more.
  • One of the most motivating feelings for the human mind is seeing progress. A simple strategy to improve your business development habits is to create a way to visualize your efforts even if you don’t get any direct feedback. A visual cue is a powerful way to see your progress and increase the odds of you keeping pushing forward.

 

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James Clear on Why Habits Are the Foundation of Business Development Success