Bad habits. We all have them. Here are some of mine. But not for long. I’m not doing any of the following any longer. I’m done. For good. Watch me.
- Not introducing my last name. Which sounds better: “Hi, I’m Blake” (my default introduction), or “Hi, I’m Blake Snow.” Not only is the former lazy and forgettable, it’s inaccurate. I’m not just one of the 59,194 Americans with the first name Blake, I’m more than that. I am the Blake Snow. At least the bodacious strategist and writer-for-hire one that helps top media and Fortune 500 companies tell great stories. Of course, U.S. records list 10 fellow citizens with my same first and last name, so I’m not the only one. My full call sign is Blake Marriott Snow. In any case, I like my name. I won’t shortchange it any more.
- Procrastinating the completion of my book. Last month, my friend Joshua Steimle asked me how my book on offline balance was coming along. “Er,” I replied. “I’m intimidated by it.” Truth is, I’m going through my second bout of year long writer’s block. “Well I want to read it,” he encouraged me. “A lot of people do.” Even though I’m only one third finished, Josh’s belief in and support of me was just what I needed. I don’t care if act II is the hardest one to pull off. I’m going to finish my book this year, whether the world eventually likes it or not.
- Premature dining. I’m not sure when, why, or how I started this bad habit. My wife probably knows. But I begin grazing on breakfast, lunch, and often dinner as I’m preparing it. Because I love food so much, I’m too impatient to wait for it. In any case, this behavior has frustrated my ability to relax and enjoy my meal. It tenses me up at the table. It’s gotten so bad, I usually forget to say grace or do so only after the bounty has hit my belly. No more. I’m gonna arrange my plate from now on, seat myself, and pray before digging in.
- Leaving voice mails. I read a stat recently (don’t remember where and my Google skills came back negative) that only 30% of people actually listen to voicemail. Most wait for a call back or call you back without listening to recorded messages. Either way, voice mail is a waste of time in the age of text and emails. Unless it’s a last ditch effort to get in contact with someone important, I’m not leaving voice mails anymore.
- Using insincere email sign-offs. You know, trite stuff like this. Although I usually put a lot of time in sending personable email sign-offs (really, I do, because they work), I’ve gotten lazy recently. Not anymore. I will conclude every email in the manner it deserves. No more “best” or un-American “cheers!”
- Misjudging others before understanding situations. When in doubt, I have a long history of doing this, especially when disciplining my kids. Since this negative trait is inborn, I won’t be able to shed it overnight. But I’m going to start by always asking, “What happened?” even when I suspect foul play is at hand. No more shooting first and asking questions later.
- Being apolgetic with requests or when answering “no.” I, like many of you, have written emails that lead with, “Hey, quick question.” What a horribly limp way to ask for help. I don’t have to excuse or belittle my requests when asking for help. I’m just going to ask them and let the recipient respectfully decide now. On the flip side, I’m no longer going to excuse or justify myself when declining invitations or requests with “no.” Doing so isn’t rude, modern psychology dictates. It’s clear communication. So if I don’t feel comfortable doing something or if it doesn’t fit with my short or long-term priorities, I’m going to offer a simple “No, thank you.”
- Putting people down instead of building them up. From now on, I’m also going to say “Let’s aim higher” anytime a collaborator approaches me with underwhelming plans. It’s uplifting, more endearing, and much less deflating than outright criticism. My hiring manager at Dell taught me this two years ago and so far I’ve failed to follow his example. Not anymore.
Cheer me on and keep me honest, will ya?