Developing the Leadership Habit


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle


Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a habit as: a. “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” c. “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.”


I know entrepreneurs who lost everything in the crash of 1987 and the recession of 1990-91, many never recovered while others have and went on to become more successful than before. What was the difference between those who weathered the storm and those who didn’t? I believe it comes down to ethics (a set of moral principles), some built on image others on good character. It takes patience and self-control to build on good character.


The Shift from Leadership Habits to The Success Habitat


“When you’ve already demonstrated it’s within you, nothing that befalls you can take it away.” -JSP


Early in our nation’s history people understood that the path to successful living rests on solid character traits, such as honesty, integrity, patience, humility, and some good old fashion mental toughness with self-control. “Government” was once defined by Webster’s dictionary in 1828 as;


GOVERNMENTnoun Direction; regulation. These precepts will serve for the government of our conduct.


1. Control; restraint. Men are apt to neglect the government of their temper and passions…


2. The exercise of authority by a parent or householder. Children are often ruined by a neglect of government in parents. Let family government be like that of our heavenly Father, mild, gentle and affectionate. (1)


We know the founding of this nation took willpower, determination, mental toughness, strong personal and family ethics. There was a sense of community and a collaborative work ethic. It’s understood if you adapt good principles, work hard and exercise integrity you succeed in life.


Over time the general view of success took on a more superficial meaning when it was attached to attractive personality traits and monetary gain. Attaching life principles to personality traits trades persistence and personal responsibility for a sliding scale value system, where personal responsibility for failure is replaced with assigning blame elsewhere.  Personality may elevate your status, but only good character will keep you there.


People who lose everything and come back stronger than before adapt solid principle driven lifestyles, for good or bad, they take ownership of their decisions. Highly successful people know that winning in life is always an inside job.


Develop Principled Behavior


“Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life. They can be applied again and again in similar situations to help you achieve your goals.”  – Ray Dalio


A “personality-driven” value system builds on emotions, and easily leads to instability. A “principle-driven” value system builds on character and leads to stability through the successes and failures we all experience in life.


The Law of The Farm 


Stephen R. Covey says, “The only thing that endures over time is the law of the farm: I must prepare the ground, put in the seed, cultivate it, weed it, water it, then gradually nurture growth and development to full maturity. …The law of the harvest governs natural laws, principles, and operate regardless” (2)


Below are ten principles which have served me well in developing my leadership habits. I believe these principles will be of some help to you as well. When we plant and cultivate these principled seeds of character, we reap the leadership habit


1- Truth (Being aligned with reality and our designed purpose) 2- Love (Loving others and loving ourselves, being respectful to all) 3- Joy-Filled living (Being content and grateful for who we are and what we have) 4- Harmony (Being in sync with universal laws and the principles of stewardship) 5- Patience (Demonstrating self-restraint with all people in all circumstances) 6- Moral Excellence (Thinking, saying, and doing what is right in all good conscience) 7- Generosity (Going beyond what is required – exceeding expectations) 8- Faithfulness (Being loyal and trustworthy in all relationships) 9- Humility (Demonstrating quiet confidence with our strengths and honesty with our weaknesses) 10 – Self-Control (Managing our desires, emotions, and behavior in all circumstances) (3)


1. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/government 2. Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey 3. Adapted from “Leading with Grace” (the moral compass) by JSP


*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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