I took a tip from James Clear’s excellent book, Atomic Habits recently and reshaped it for leadership team I was working with.

In a move away from the old adage of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ (which let’s face it, takes an enormous amount of effort and usually leaves us feeling a bit icky & incongruent), Clear encourages people developing new habits to adopt the attributes of a person who already has those habits and in doing so begin to reference yourself as the person you are becoming.

So if becoming healthy is the habit you’re forming, when faced with a menu choice you’d ask yourself ‘what would a healthy person choose?’.

If you extrapolate this out to other habits or shifts you want to make, you might find yourself asking:

– What would a strategic person do?
– What would someone who holds their boundaries say?
– What would someone with a healthy life balance choose?
– What would a courageous or caring or collaborative person say?

In the same way I encouraged the team over the course of two days, to constantly reference the team they’re becoming and ask similar questions of themselves as a team. This not only prevented them from being stuck in old ways of being, it provided them with a belief that things could shift.

Rather than focussing on what’s not working, teams who talk about the team they are becoming give themselves the licence to change, to operate differently.

They’re able to acknowledge that not everything will land perfectly. Shifting / changing / developing is an iterative process and they can gradually become the team they all want to be part of.