Craig Groeschel - High-Impact Habits for Successful Leaders
Let's dive into new leadership content. The title of today's episode is High-Impact Habits. What are we gonna do? For this episode and the upcoming two, we're gonna talk for a total of three episodes about your habits. Why so much on habits? Because in your leadership, your habits matter more than you can imagine. What do we know about our habits? We know this. The potential of your leadership is a direct reflection of the quality of your habits. Let me say it again. Take it to the bank. The potential of your leadership is a direct reflection of the quality of your habits. Why? Because you are what you repeatedly do. Like it or not, to a large degree, your team, they'll also reflect your habits. Whenever you lead with intensity, they'll likely lead with intensity. If you're hands-off and don't care about excellence, over time, chances are your team will reflect that as well.
So to talk about habits, some of what I'm gonna share is original content that I've worked on for a long time. Some of what I'm gonna share is adapted from three of my favorite books. And I wanna tell you these books, I wanna recommend that you read them. They're all must-reads. And so I wanna give credit to the authors. Charles Duhigg wrote "The Power of Habits," and his work impacted the way I think about habits tremendously. Darren Hardy wrote the book "Compound Effect," and it's not directly related to habits, but it's very, very close. And then the classic, "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. I'll quote James over and over and over again. We've had him on the podcast before. In fact, we'll link to his episode in the notes that we send you in the email. And I wanna give credit to those authors and tell you their work has really impacted my thoughts.
Now, whenever we talk about leadership habits, here's what I've noticed over time. There are a lot of new leaders that tend to think they've gotta master a few big, elusive, hard-to-achieve super habits. In other words, if I'm gonna be a great leader, I've gotta have these massively visible power habits. And I wanna tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a key thought is this. Every big impact is a result of small and wise habits. Anytime you do something that's significant, It's always a result of small and wise habits that compound over time. In fact, what do we know about most successful people? Are you ready for this? Most successful leaders, They are not great at everything. They never are. In fact, they're not great at most things.
What do we know? We know that generally, the best leaders, they're highly disciplined. They're fanatically consistent in a few specific leadership habits. They have a few things they do consistently well over time, and that makes the difference. In fact, I've said it a million times, I'll say it a million times more. Successful people do consistently what other people do occasionally. it was Sean Covey who said this: "Our habits will make us or break us because we become what we repeatedly do".
So as we launch into a new year, I've got good news and bad news for your leadership. And the good news is that many of you are making New Year's resolutions right now because you wanna get better. That's good news. The bad news is that 92% of them won't last. Sorry to break it to you. So many people, we've got really good intentions right now, but the follow-through is often way less than we want it to be. We're gonna try to solve that problem and change our trajectory today with this content. What do you wanna change in your life? In your professional life, Some of you may wanna say, "Well, I wanna get to the office an hour earlier". Or you might say, "I wanna get more organized". Or you might say, "I wanna delegate more to my team members". Those are all great thoughts. In your personal life, you might say, "I gotta stop eating so much junk food". Or "I wanna stop procrastinating". Or "I'm gonna stop overspending," at my favorite store or online or whatever.
Why is it that we have these good intentions but we generally fail? Why is it that we start with high hopes, but we fall short very quickly so often? I wanna give you three reasons we don't succeed, And we're gonna go deep into practicalities. How to go from hope to habits. Why is it we don't succeed? Number one, the biggest problem is this: we focus on the what, but we don't understand the how. We focus on what we want to change, what we wanna do, what we don't wanna do, but we don't understand how we actually change. And it was James Clear who said this. He said, "Most of us, we desire the same thing. We have similar goals though we have vastly different results". True, right?
Think about it. Every sports team wants to win the championship. I've never heard a coach say, "This year, we wanna be in fifth place". When a couple gets married, they all say, "I wanna have a great marriage". Nobody says, "We wanna try to make it five years, maybe seven. And then divorce and fight for the rest of our lives". Nobody says that. In every business, every business says, "We wanna be profitable". No business says, "We wanna lose money every single year". Everyone has the same goals or similar goals, but very different results. Why? again, Clear will teach us, goals don't determine success. Systems determine success. We could say it this way: your goals don't determine where you're going. Your habits determine where you're going.
And I like what James Clear says. He says, "You don't rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems". Both professionally and personally, What we tend to do is we tend to think, "Well, I need to change the results". In other words, personally, you might say, "Okay, this year I wanna lose 20 pounds". Or "I wanna get more organized". Or "I wanna pay off my credit card". This is changing the results. But what we wanna do as leaders is we wanna think with a different mindset. Instead of just trying to change the results, what we wanna do is we wanna change the systems that create those results. We wanna change the habits that determine the outcomes.
And here's what happens. When we fix what we do, when we fix our habits, when we fix our system, the outcome fixes itself. In fact, we're gonna talk more about this in upcoming episodes. But the big problem, why do we have good intentions but we don't follow through? Number one is we focus on the what, but we don't understand the how. the second big problem is this. We don't see progress fast enough. Why don't we change? Because we start and we don't see any results. Think about it. In your leadership, you wanna help your team improve. So you have a developmental conversation with a team member and the behavior doesn't change. And you get discouraged because you didn't see progress fast enough. Or you say, "I wanna get more organized," and so you list your top priorities. And at the end of the day, your day is still unproductive, and so you get frustrated. Or you say, "I wanna lose weight".
So you walk on the treadmill three times in one week. And at the end of the week, you get on the scale and you gained two pounds and you're incredibly frustrated. And so what do you do when you don't see progress fast enough? You make a wrong conclusion. And what is your wrong conclusion? You wrongly conclude that small, wise decisions don't matter that much. These little habits that I'm trying to do, they're just not big enough. They're not effective. These small, wise decisions don't matter that much. And that's your first wrong conclusion. The opposite is true as well. When we do the wrong things, when we have the bad habits, our lives or our ministries or our businesses, they don't usually self-destruct that week. There can be a team member that's always late to work and you don't correct that team member. Why? Because that team member's tardiness doesn't poison the culture immediately.
Nothing falls apart because they were late three times in a row. Or you may run a bad, boring, and ineffective meeting week after week. And it doesn't seem to matter that much. The staff doesn't quit. You just have bad meetings. Or you eat a half a box of chocolates and you can't even really tell. So you think it didn't matter that much, and so you make your second wrong conclusion. The first one, you think these small, good habits don't matter that much. Your second wrong bad conclusion is that the small, unwise decisions don't matter that much. My small, bad habits don't really make that big of a difference. And both of these conclusions are dangerously wrong. Why? Because our life and leadership is the sum total of all the decisions that we make. Who are you? You're a result of your habits, your small habits compounding over time. Our life and our leadership is the sum total of the small decisions we make and the habits that we establish.
And here's what happens. When you have the right habits, the right disciplines, You create the right systems in your leadership. Your hard work, your faithfulness, your disciplines, your private sacrifices, your integrity is never being wasted. It's being stored up. Think of it this way. If you take water and you put it in a pot and you put it on a gas fire or on a stove and you start to heat the water, eventually, the water warms to 80 degrees. And then it warms to say 140 degrees. And then it warms to 205 degrees. And then it warms to 211 degrees. What do you have when you have 211-degree water? The answer is you have really, really hot water. But one more degree, when the water warms from 211 to 212, that water is not hot. That water is boiling. And this is what will happen in your leadership over time. It won't be instant. It won't be a few minutes, a few weeks, a few months. It may take years. Sometimes it takes even longer. But when you commit to the healthy leadership habits, you're creating a healthy and a thriving culture, and you're empowering growing leaders, and you're wise with your resources.
Over time, the water starts to rise. The temperature starts to rise. And then one day you're boiling, and everybody else looks and goes, "Oh my gosh, you're nothing but an overnight success". And what they don't see is this. What they don't see is the years. The small, consistent disciplines done faithfully over time. What they don't see is the early mornings and the late nights. They don't see you enduring the criticism, And you trying and you failing and you trying again. And you're working really hard to get in that healthy grind. We've got the good rhythms and the good habits and the healthy systems and the persistence. They don't know the private price that you paid. And that's why I always say it's the things that no one sees that bring the results that everyone wants.
I want you to think about it. It's not the big elusive habits. It's the small: faithfulness, the consistency done over time. It's the small things that no one sees that brings about the big results that everyone wants. Why is it that you've got good intentions and you often don't follow through? The same as true for me. We focused on the what, but we don't understand the how. The second problem is we don't see progress fast enough. The third challenge is this. That our negative self-perception sabotages our success. You'll see this in your own leadership. Our negative self-perception sabotages our success. And the reality is all of us as leaders, we have insecurities. You do. I do. The person that you look up to and think is totally confident, she has insecurities as well. You might say in your own leadership insecurity, you might think, "Okay, I'm not good at recognizing talent". Or "I'm never good at confronting anybody". Or "I stink at handling money," so let's just go shopping or whatever.
Here's what we need to understand. An unhealthy identity creates unwise habits. And unwise habits reinforce that unhealthy identity. Let me say it again because this is so important. Anytime you have an unhealthy identity, that tends to create unwise habits. And those unwise habits reinforce that unhealthy identity. And that's why this year we're going to do something different at the beginning of the year. Are you ready? We're gonna do something different. Instead of doing, we have do goals. This is your New Year's resolution. Here's what I'm going to do. Instead of having do goals, I wanna encourage you as a leader to start with who goals. Not what do I wanna do, but as a leader, who do I want to become? And this is really important. I want you to slow down. I want you to think about this. You may wanna play it back and reflect on this.
As a leader this year, I don't wanna ask you just, what do I wanna do? We don't wanna grow. We don't wanna get better. But instead, who do you want to become? And I wanna encourage you to answer this question. Maybe you wanna say, "I wanna become a leader who loves people". That's a great answer. Or "I wanna be a leader who develops leaders". Or I wanna be a leader who is known for his or her integrity. Or "I wanna be a disciplined leader that people admire and respect". You might take it out of your leadership, and you might be coming through like a moral difficulty in your marriage. You might wanna say, "I wanna be a faithful husband". Or "I wanna be a faithful wife". Or maybe you're battling an addiction. And instead of just saying I wanna stop doing whatever, your identity might be this: I wanna be sober. I wanna be clean. We're gonna start with identity. Not what do you want to do as a leader, but who do you wanna become? Why is this so important? Because identity shapes actions. In other words, when you know who you are, you know what to do.
And James Clear talks about this in his book, and you can read how he explains it. Essentially, he says if you're tired of smoking cigarettes, you can decide it's time to quit. What are you gonna do when someone says, "Do you want a cigarette"? And he says how you respond is a reflection of how you see yourself. Your identity determines your response. If you say, "No, thank you". Hey, do you want a cigarette? No, thank you. I'm trying to quit. The problem is you see yourself as a smoker, and you're trying to be somebody else. If instead, someone says, "Hey, you want a cigarette"? and you say, "No, I'm not a smoker. I used to smoke, but I'm not a smoker. That's not who I am". Your identity changes your actions.
So what are we gonna do? As a leader, we're gonna focus on our leadership identity. Not just what you wanna do as a leader, but who do you wanna become as a leader? Identity shapes actions. And here's what we know about a healthy identity. A healthy identity creates positive habits. And what do positive habits do? Positive habits reinforce that healthy identity. Let me say it again. When you have a healthy identity, you see yourself as a leader that loves people. You see yourself as a leader that develops leaders. You see yourself as a leader with integrity. That healthy identity creates positive habits, and the positive habits reinforce that healthy identity. So the question is this. Who do you wanna become as a leader? Your assignment is to answer that question, and I'm gonna challenge you to create three leadership I am statements.
I don't know what yours will be, but I wanna challenge you to create three leadership I am statements. You may wanna do this with your team as well. And your statement might be, one of them might be, I'm a leader who trusts, empowers, and creates leaders. That's a great I am statement. Your statement might be something like this. I'm a disciplined leader. I choose what I want most over what I want now. You might say, "Here's your leadership I am statement". You might say, "I'm a faith-filled, bold, risk-taking leader. I'll never insult God with small thinking or safe living". Whatever it is, I'm wanna challenge you to create three leadership I am statements. And if I can just kind of get in your business for a minute. Please, whatever you do, don't let what happened in your past rob you of becoming the leader that you can be in the future. If you had a failure or a shortcoming or someone told you never would be or whatever, don't let someone else's opinion limit you. I promise you, there is more in your leadership than you can imagine.
There are gears inside your leadership you have not yet shifted. There's more inside of you. And so this year, what I want you to do is think identity first. Identity before behavior, because identity drives behavior. You're gonna create the three leadership I am statements. And then we're gonna have a follow-up in the next episode. And the next question that you're gonna answer is this. Based on the leader that you want to become, based on whoever it is that you want to be, what one habit do you need to start? We're starting with identity. And then we're going to action. Who do you want to be as a leader? And in the next episode, we're gonna answer the question and we're gonna learn how to start it based on who you wanna become as a leader. What one habit do you need to start? Because when you know who you are as a leader, you'll know what to do.
And the amazing thing is that no single right action completely changes your identity. But multiple right actions over time, it changes how you see yourself. And eventually, it changes your leadership identity. Because successful people do consistently what others do occasionally. So in the upcoming episode, we're gonna talk about the three principles to help you start the habits that last. And again, I wanna tell you, if the content is helpful to you, would you mind rating it or reviewing it? Post on social media if you don't mind, inviting others to be a part of our community. I would love to see it if you wanna post your leadership I am statements on social media. Tag me. We'll repost. Who do you see yourself becoming? Share it with the world, your leadership I am statements. We will be dropping a bonus episode on Thursday, January 20th. I believe this will be your best year of leadership ever. Why? Because you're investing in your leadership. And we know that everyone wins when the leader gets better.