Episode 69: Positive Rituals

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“We use the word “ritual” purposefully to emphasize the notion of a carefully defined, highly structured behavior. In contrast to will and discipline, which require pushing yourself to a particular behavior, a ritual pulls at you. Think of something as simple as brushing your teeth. It is not something that you ordinarily have to remind yourself to do. Brushing your teeth is something to which you feel consistently drawn, compelled by its clear health value. You do it largely on automatic pilot, without much conscious effort or intention. The power of rituals is that they insure that we use as little conscious energy as possible where it is not absolutely necessary, leaving us free to strategically focus the energy available to us in creative, enriching ways.” ~ Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz from The Power of Full Engagement

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Positive Rituals

“We use the word “ritual” purposefully to emphasize the notion of a carefully defined, highly structured behavior. In contrast to will and discipline, which require pushing yourself to a particular behavior, a ritual pulls at you. Think of something as simple as brushing your teeth. It is not something that you ordinarily have to remind yourself to do. Brushing your teeth is something to which you feel consistently drawn, compelled by its clear health value. You do it largely on automatic pilot, without much conscious effort or intention. The power of rituals is that they insure that we use as little conscious energy as possible where it is not absolutely necessary, leaving us free to strategically focus the energy available to us in creative, enriching ways.” ~ Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz from The Power of Full Engagement

The book is all about optimizing our energy and the authors provide a *very* compelling case that our will power is actually a) *much* weaker than we think; and, b) much more draining when employed than we think. Every time we have to consciously think about whether or not we’re gonna do something, we deplete energy. And, that adds up.

Researchers say that 95 (!!!) % of our behavior is habitual. Only 5% is conscious. The challenge is systematically building RITUALS into our lives that allow us to put the energy enhancing behaviors on auto-pilot. As they say: “All great performers rely on positive rituals to manage their energy and regulate their behavior.” And, “The more exacting the challenge and the greater the pressure, the more rigorous our rituals need to be.”

That’s powerful. The more exacting the challenge, the more rigorous our rituals need to be. Robin Sharma (see Notes on The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari), the greatness guru, says the same thing. In his studies of the world’s most exemplary human beings, he’s discovered they all demonstrated one key attribute: CONSISTENCY ON THE FUNDAMENTALS. They don’t need to THINK about their fundamentals. They’re rituals.

How about you? Are your fundamentals rituals? Or do you need to have “will power” to do ‘em? Jack Canfield, in his great book The Success Principles (see Notes) says that “99% is a bitch and 100% is a breeze.” If you need to think about whether you’re gonna meditate (or exercise or not yell at your spouse/kids or whatever) today, you’re NEVER going to have locked-in consistency. It’s gotta be non-negotiable and made into a ritual that pulls YOU toward IT rather than something you go kicking and screaming to. Make sense?

This is BIG. What ritual do you need to build in your life? Just pick ONE thing. Rock it.

Brian Johnson,

Chief Philosopher