I am a free spirit; I am spontaneous; I hate structure that locks me down to doing the same old thing in the same old way. Therefore, I don’t always finish what I start. Sometimes in fact, I have too many things going on at once because I am a sucker for variety and excitement. I like the thrill of the chase but not necessarily catching what I’m chasing. I have dreams, ideas aplenty, but when the rubber meets the road, I end up without anything to show for my efforts. I would rather be free than tied down to a particular pattern for any length of time. Therefore, I have discovered that freedom without discipline is a curse. I don’t do well with mundane, routine, ritualistic activities. That is one of the weaknesses on my personal SWOT analysis. There you have it, I admit it.
But now since I’ve been on my personal leadership development quest, I have learned the power of harnessing the routine to ensure success in any venture. Let me just say that routines are powerful tools to ensure you remain consistent and get continuous victory in whatever path of life you choose. Creflo Dollar teachings it this way, “Consistency is the key to your breakthrough.” The Bible says Be Patient which means remaining consistently the same (routine) when you’re facing hardships, troubles, or trials. Keep doing what you know is effective even when it gets monotonous, routine, ritualistic, and difficult to focus. Your free spirit wants to flee, but you must harness your spirit, mind, and body and stay the course. There is victory in staying the course even when your emotions are on hiatus.
The Apostle Paul warns against those who inspire others, yet after others have been inspired you refuse to do what you taught. You refuse to practice what you preached. He writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
There are a lot of people who can give advice but live unstructured, undisciplined lives. They’re not bad people, they just have not learned how to harness doing things they don’t feel like doing. They haven’t mastered the art of staying in a system, staying on a course when things aren’t glamorous. In other words, adversity does not cause them to become more steadfast in practicing effective principles of success, adversity causes them to flee, to switch careers, switch spouses, switch banks, switch whatever they’re doing in favor of trying something new.
Trace the lives of those with free spirits and you will find people who have a track record of not finishing what they have started. At first it seems the things they have walked away from are limited to one area, but when you look at the totality of their lives, traces of a lack of tenacity are evident wherever they have gone. These type of people are good motivators but bad leaders. They are good speakers but poor administrators. They are excellent observers but incompetent doers. They hate detail, routine, and refuse to discipline themselves to do the hard and unflattering, things in life. Freedom is their curse not their blessing. Until they harness the power of doing something systematically the same day in and day out, they will always be operating under this curse which guarantees that their success will be limited, spotted, and minimal.
And so today I want to teach those free spirits like me to harness the power of the routine so that we can reach our destiny and maintain our tenacity through boring, mundane, routine, ritualistic actions necessary for us to reach our goals. In other words, I am teaching about how those who are daydreamers and free spirits can take full advantage of the blessings contained in self-discipline, ritual and routine. Are you ready, let’s do this.
Routine provides structure, builds good habits, negates the need for willpower and motivation. Willpower is finite and motivation is not constant. That is why relying on routine to accomplish tasks is a lot easier than relying on willpower and motivation. Routine saves you work on the back end, and helps you become good at things thereby increasing your efficiency. Systems can be improved upon and made more effective. However, spontaneity is not subject to such scrutiny. The power in routine is its ability, flexibility, and adaptability to environments, circumstances, and conditions. You need to learn how to create systems, routines that serve your needs and those of the ones who depend on your service. Harnessing systems and directing them to a definite end is a powerful tool to fulfilling your destiny.
According to Ash Roy, noted blogger, in his article for Productivity, “How 12 Highly Productive People Used The Power Of Routine To Achieve Greatness”, The secret to being a high achiever is a lot simpler than you’d imagine. It’s all about routine and focus. He writes that Steve Jobs upon discovering his cancer asked himself one question each day, “Everyday he’d ask himself “If today was the last day of my life would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” When the answer was “no” for too many days in a row he knew he had to change something.” This simple routine produced much added value for the customers and shareholders of the Apple Brand. Warren Buffet reads 500 pages a day; that’s his routine and it has led him to be one of the most wealthiest men and most wise investors in the world. What is your routine. Consistency. Routine. Habit. That’s the key to success for so many.
I want to share five steps to mastering or harnessing the power of the routine.
First step is Brain dump time. It is the step where you determine what you need to get done this day. Begin by answering these questions:
- What tasks do you need to complete each day in order to get to work?
- Which tasks do you need to do each day to get your kids to school?
- Which tasks do you need to do each day to eat?
- Which errands do you need to get done daily?
- Which tasks need to get done each done in order for you to get some exercise?
- Which tasks do I need to get done to maintain an organized home?
Second, create a timetable by assessing your energy levels. Think about when you do your best work. Flexibility is the key; don’t mimic anyone else; be true to your own timetable.
Third, add some flexibility for exceptions. Your work process or schedule may not fit neatly into this, and that’s OK; the point is to harness your most productive times to use for your most challenging tasks, and your least productive times to do the more mundane tasks.
Fourth, put it all together. Write your daily agenda. Start with anything that has to be done at a certain time each day (like picking your kids up a school or eating lunch). Then slot in tasks based on when you think it makes the most sense to tackle them.
Fifth, test drive your agenda. See how it works for you and adjust where it’s not working. Your daily agenda is your key to consistency; the key to your success. Becoming a creature of habit is not altogether bad. If you run a business or lead an organization, you need to have structure so people will know when to expect you to be and do certain things. Becoming reliable is a good thing.
Developing the systems that make your routine tasks more efficient is the key to harnessing the power of the routine. Systems create avenues and seqways to greatness; don’t delay establish routines that add value to your life and your professional career.