Support Your Team’s Mission with Your Habits, Routines, and Rituals

Posted by Kristin Arnold on April 17, 2019

I was just reading my colleague, Damian Mason’s latest book: Do Business Better: Traits, Habits, and Actions to Help You Succeed.  This book is written primarily for entrepreneurs (hopeful, budding, and existing), yet there are gems for ANY person who works in a business as well!

So here’s what got me thinking:  Mason talks about the difference between a habit and a routine.  He says,

“One is intentional, the other mindless.  No matter what your picture of success looks like, you won’t get there by being mindless.”

So here’s how he defines these terms:

Habit: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.

Routine:  regular, unvarying habitual, unimaginative, or rote (without thought) procedure.

He goes on to explain that “unimaginatively and unvaryingly plodding through life without thought never yields positive results.”  And this is where Damian and I differ.

Having a routine is a great foundation that you don’t have to expend energy to think about.  Imagine if every morning, you had to think about whether you were going to brush your teeth, take a shower and comb your hair?  I do that automatically, without thinking.  It’s regular and quite unimaginative.  But important to do and allows me to keep good company with others!  I am then able to “spend” my energy elsewhere…like on the important things/decisions in my life!

Habits, on the other hand, are much more active and intentional.  They typically support something you are trying to attain and/or change.  They also have a cumulative effect where the benefits pile up over time.  As Mason describes, “The physically fit person isn’t fit because she exercised Tuesday.  She’s fit because she exercises every Tuesday.  Several other days of the week too.”  She has developed a habit of exercising in order to be fit.

There is one more term that I’d like to throw into the mix:  the “ritual.”  I’ll define the ritual as a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone.  A ritual is a custom or tradition that defines who they are as a team, reinforces positive team behaviors, and contributes to the team’s culture and philosophy.  Rituals often celebrate exceptional contributions, additions, promotions and retirements from the team, or the accomplishment of significant team milestones.

For example, one of our rituals here at QPC Inc. is “tea time” at 3 pm, every day.  For 10 or 15 minutes, we grab a cup of tea, coffee or soda and gather together to share what’s going on with us at work, home, or leisure.  When starting my consulting practice, I recognized the importance of  our team “connecting” each day–regardless of what’s going on in the office–because we are often moving in a million different directions.  Tea(m) time allows us to focus on the people side of teams, not just the great work.

So….what routines, habits, and rituals support your team’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives – and which are you mindlessly following that might not be supporting the team’s work?


KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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