Pop quiz: What’s the #1 thing that separates elite performers from the rest?
(Hint: It’s hidden in your habits...)
Don’t know...? Okay, fine. we’ll tell you.
The quality of your rituals!
More than any other factor, rituals create your success.
If any of these apply to you…
Then you need to install at least one new positive ritual to help you get there!
So... What the Heck is a Ritual Anyways?
A ritual is a deliberate habit you install. It’s a way of engineering your behavior (or the behavior of your team) for success.
Put another way, it’s a “success behavior” that leads you to where you want to go.
Here’s our more formal definition of rituals:
Rituals are precise behaviors that you deliberately create to help you meet any goal.
Over the long term, having the right rituals in place can mean the difference between success and failure.
Elite entrepreneurs are probably not any smarter than you…
The thing that sets them apart is the quality of their rituals.
In most cases, they’ve learned how to create positive rituals that keep them on track and fuel their success.
Let’s quickly review an important concept…
Rituals Are How You Guide Your “Elephant” to Stay on Track
Remember the Elephant and the Rider from our last post?
If you missed it, here’s the skinny on it…
Your Conscious Mind is like a tiny Rider sitting on top of a ginormous Elephant. The Elephant represents your Subconscious Mind.
This Elephant is lazy and doesn’t want to change. It guides you towards the easiest thing to do…
It likes to keep doing those old habits, even if they’re not productive or helpful to you.
When you're under stress, your Elephant tends to guide you towards non-productive behaviors.
Think about all the times you sabotage yourself… it usually happens when you’re tired, sick, cranky, etc.
That’s why we need rituals!
Rituals help you keep the Elephant on the right track.
In a second, I’m gonna give you some examples of rituals… so that you’re crystal clear on what they are and how they can help you.
But first, here’s a common question we get about rituals…
People often ask, “What’s the difference between habits and rituals?”
Well, here’s the difference...
Here’s the Difference Between Habits and Rituals
Your habits are a mixed bag of both positive and negative… and they're usually created without a plan.
Habits are unconscious programs that run automatically.
In most cases, you weren’t very deliberate about forming your habits. They get created over time as you do something over and over again.
For that reason, your habits are a mixed bag…
Some contribute to your success, and others keep you from what you want.
Unlike habits, you create rituals deliberately. The whole purpose of a ritual is to help you get whatever you want…
Whether it’s more focus, productivity, happiness, money, better relationships, etc.
Also, unlike habits, rituals are created deliberately. You put them in place to “engineer” your behavior in some way.
Here are some examples of positive rituals to jog your thinking:
This whole idea of rituals can be a little confusing at first…
So here are some examples so you can see that this is a VERY flexible concept:
Waking up early to exercise each morning
Drinking more water during the day
Starting your morning by avoiding social media and doing something productive instead
Packing your lunch the night before so you can get to work early
Turning your computer off 2 hrs before bed so you can sleep better
Working in chunks of 45-60 minutes then taking a break
Spending quality time with your husband/wife/significant other after the kids have gone to bed
As you can see from these examples, there’s no one-size-fits-all ritual. They come in all different shapes and sizes.
Your imagination is the only limit to what you can do with rituals!
Rituals can be very simple, or complex. They can take 1 minute to do... or 1 day
Here’s an example of a simple (but powerful) ritual.
One of our clients is the leader of a non-profit. She’s a very busy lady with a lot of demands on her time.
She noticed that she was having a hard time separating her work life from her family life. At night, she wasn’t as present with her husband and kids as she wanted to be.
So she created a simple ritual to solve this.
Every day on her drive home from work, when she pulls into her neighborhood…
She mentally takes the things she’s worried about, or things on her to-do list that aren’t finished…
And she imagines putting all those worries and concerns into a neighbor's mailbox.
That way all her work-related thoughts and feelings have a “container” to go in. Safe and sound.
In the morning, she drives by that same mailbox on the way to work. (It’s always the same poor, unsuspecting mailbox!)
As she passes it, she mentally “picks up” those worries and work-related things. That way she can think about them on her daily commute to her office.
The amount of time it takes her to do this ritual:
Less than 1 minute. Both ways.
But the effect it has on her family life is huge. It allows her to be calm and present for her children.
Some rituals are more complex and can take more time.
For example, many successful companies have quarterly planning sessions. The leaders of the company review their strategy and plans for the next quarter.
Whether they take a half day or a whole day, there are big payoffs for these sessions.
They help focus and motivate you and your team. And they are a way to celebrate the successes of the previous quarter.
Here’s another example of a more complex ritual…
Let’s say you have a goal of exercising 3-4 times per week. And let’s say you’re not working out at all… so you’re starting from zero.
This is a much more complex ritual!
Think about all the little behaviors you have to do to make that happen…
You may have to…
Come up with a workout plan or regimen
Sign up for a gym, or create a space in your house to exercise
Create time in your schedule (wake up earlier or go to bed earlier)
Make sure you have workout clothes if you go to the gym
Make sure you eat enough (having breakfast)
As you can see, creating an exercise ritual is not as simple as mentally sticking stuff in your neighbor’s mailbox!
Some rituals are easier to create than others, but all of them serve the same purpose...
To help you get more of whatever you want!
The number one mistake people make when trying to create a new habit or ritual
Here’s the number one mistake people make with rituals…
They don’t realize that every big change is made up of small steps…
And you have to engineer each step to make the big change possible..
That’s why most people don’t hit their goals. It’s why they quickly give up on their New Year’s resolutions…
They don’t have a plan to make their behavior stick.
Luckily, there are simple rules and principles you can follow to create new rituals.
There’s a framework, a simple step-by-step process, you can use to create ANY new habit.
This framework makes it easy to install a new ritual for yourself… or for your team… So that it sticks long-term.
It’s a 4-step ”ritual creation process” we call the PEAK Model.
Dr. Nita Matthews-Morgan & Josh Matthews-Morgan are the co-founders of Learn Your Brain.
They are a unique mother-son team who specialize in helping entrepreneurs and business owners master their mindset.
They’re the authors of Deliver: How to Perform Your Best When it Counts the Most.