Over the weekend our bulldog Moe taught me a really interesting lesson about habits.
You see, Moe hates to do just about everything except sleep. He particularly dislikes going outside to take care of his business. Just utter the phrase “let’s go outside, Moe” and he’ll give you a look and growl.
That is, unless you put his leash on. Actually, if you even grab the leash and place it on or near his back (like in the quick 0:41 second video below) he’ll gladly comply and take care of business. Check it out – you won’t be disappointed. 🙂
Somewhere early in Moe’s training – long before we rescued him several years ago – he developed the habit of going outside on a leash. And now, unless he’s on a leash, he’s just not going outside.
As pharmaceutical sales managers, that’s how habits work for us too, especially when it comes to our field coaching days. Consciously, or more often unconsciously, we get used to operating a certain way and create habits that simply become part of how we do things.
Like most things in life, leadership habits can be value GIVING (that work out before hitting the field each morning that leaves you feeling energized and positive) or value TAKING (that hour lost each morning down the social media rabbit hole that leaves you feeling zoned out and tired.)
Here are a few ideas that can help you become more aware of the habits that create the fabric of your field coaching days and some steps you can take create value GIVING habits that supercharge your leadership and life:
- Take an inventory: for one full week, use a paper or digital journal and keep track of everything you do on a field coaching day. Start from the moment you wake up until the time you go to bed. Don’t try and change anything, just simply make note of what you do and how much time it takes.
- Sort: with a week’s worth of field coaching days logged, take a few minutes and identify which category your activities fall into: value GIVING or TAKING. Even if you just did that activity on Tuesday – write it down. Was there something missing on the GIVING list that you know would improve your coaching? Make note of it. Be brutally honest with yourself in this process.
- Start Small: using this list, identify just one small activity you’d like to break as a habit (TAKING) or one you would like to make a habit of (GIVING.) Don’t go for a big one first – just look for one that can give you a small, early win in the quality and effectiveness of your field coaching! If you’re looking for some help with more formally setting goals, take a look at this post I wrote a couple of months ago.
- Track it: now that you’ve got a goal in your sights…time to track it. You’ve got to make this easy and aligned with how you like to operate. If you’re attached to your phone, an app might work (Michael Hyatt reviews 7 great options here…check them out.) Still prefer paper? Check out The Habit Journal, it looks awesome and was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Let’s face it, we’re district managers so we love to track things. Have fun with this 🙂
- Persist: we have all heard it suggested that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Quick research on that idea shows that it’s not exactly that simple. A study from 2009 in the European Journal of Social Psychology showed a HUGE range from 18 to 254 days for subjects to “automate” an eating, drinking or exercise behavior. It will be different for every person depending on the habit being worked with…so persist.
- Pick a partner for support: once your system is in place, find someone you can lean on for support and accountability. A peer district manager that you trust might be a great choice since they understand the world you operate in and can easily see the importance of making field coaching days as valuable as possible. Set up a system to stay in touch formally and encourage them to hold you accountable.
- Celebrate: changing the way we do things is hard work, so find ways to celebrate successes along the way. Set up milestones and rewards for rocking the habit in advance. Make them fun and something to truly look forward to.
- Leave the leash: just like Moe responded to the leash in the video, we often need triggers or reminders to stay in place for the long haul, especially as our days in the field can change all time. So even when you feel comfortable that you’ve nailed down your habit, don’t feel bad about leaving these cues in place to help stay on target. In fact, it might just be the tactic that matters most for long term success!
I’d love to hear from you on this topic in the comments section below!
From your experience…
- What are some of the most valuable habits that help create excellent field coaching days in the pharmaceutical industry?
In next week’s blog, we’ll continue this conversation with some of your ideas around field coaching habits, insights from thought leaders in the area of productivity and some ideas I have from time spent in the field.
Until then have an excellent rest of the week,