A quote I like from Thomas S. Monson states, “It has been said that the gate of history turns on small hinges and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.”
Do you know of any “small hinges” you could use to improve your life and the lives of others?
About six years ago I joined a coaching program for business owners and entrepreneurs that was run by Strategic Coach, a company that has its home office in Canada, and satellite offices in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago. As part of the program, I attended a one-day workshop four times a year in Chicago where we focused on personal development, business development, and strategic planning. Prior to each workshop, the company provided each of the participants with “homework” which consisted of reading materials and audio CDs.
The first set of reading materials and CDs I received was a learning module entitled, How The Best Get Better. That particular module taught what Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, calls “The Referability Habits.”
In the module, Sullivan emphasized that there are four specific habits that business owners must practice before they can ever expect to successfully grow a business. The four “Referability Habits” are deceptively simple and are actually guidelines that if consistently followed will eventually turn into habits. Here are Sullivan’s four Referability Habits:
1. Show up on time.
2. Finish what you start.
3. Do what you say you’re going to do.
4. Say please and thank you.
The reason Sullivan calls these guidelines “Referability Habits” is because a person is not going to feel comfortable referring a friend or an acquaintance to the owner of a service business if the person making the referral knows that the owner habitually shows up late, makes promises he can’t (or won’t) keep, fails to finish what he starts, and/or does not have the courtesy to ask for something in the right way or to show appreciation by saying “thank you.”
The last thing a person making a referral wants is to have his friend come back later and tell him that he received terrible service. This would reflect very poorly on the person who made the referral.
These four guidelines are so important they should be taught (and repeated) every year, to every student – from kindergarten through senior year in high school.
Now be honest with me. Do you practice these four guidelines all of the time? Have they become habits?
I’ve gotten to the point where I get very impatient with people who don’t abide by these guidelines (which happens a lot). I push my employees to abide by them. I push my children to abide by them. I push myself to abide by them.
I get angry with people who are in positions of leadership when they don’t abide by these guidelines (not only the leaders we elect, but also the ones who are in charge of our institutions and churches).
These four basic guidelines apply to all of us; yet, very few of us can lay claim to the fact that we follow them on a consistent basis.
Imagine that you’re standing before God on your judgment day and He says to you: Did you consistently show up on time, finish what you started, do what you said you were going to do, and say please and thank you?
I would bet that our Lord, our Lady, and St. Joseph learned these four guidelines when they were children and habitually practiced them their entire lives. Why can’t we do the same?
I’m not going to ask you to do anything heroic this Lenten season. All I’m going to ask of you is that you:
1. Make a commitment to abide by these four basic guidelines during this Lenten season; and
2. Keep a daily journal of every instance in which you fail to follow one of the guidelines.
Can you handle this challenge? You would expect your 15-year-old son or daughter to abide by these guidelines, so why wouldn’t you expect it of yourself?
Practice these four guidelines until they become habits and you will find that you have added four new “little hinges” that will open up a gate to a whole new world of personal growth, self-confidence, and happiness.