It’s great fun to do things at conferences like stand on chairs and sing Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ or Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’. It gets everyone smiling, gets a spirit of teamwork going and creates an infectious desire to make change happen.

But far, far too often that desire is as far as the momentum goes. I see wonderful people with wonderful intentions. But it stays in the conference room. People only get fired up and excited for a couple of hours and then go back to their teams or families and nothing changes. And we know that the only thing that makes change happen is change. So simple, but absolutely essential.

Let me share with you three words: Learn. Apply. Habit. If you do in order what’s contained in those three words then you will be right on target to successfully achieve your goals and inspire those around you to give it everything they’ve got.

Very often we learn something new, something that we just know will make a difference in our lives. But that difference can only happen if we take notice of the next word in our sequence: Apply. It’s no good hearing some new and exciting way to get the best out of yourself or your team if you don’t apply it.

And that application needs to be an all the time decision, not a some of the time if I can be bothered decision! The application of what you’ve learnt has to become a Habit. Then – and only then – will people mention your name and the word excellence in the same breath, time and again. Because excellence is a product of consistency. You’ve got to do the good stuff – and do it over and over.

Learn. Apply. Habit: it’s what success in martial arts is based on and it’s the only way to the prize of a black belt. And I remember when I was a young tennis player, representing Australia. I thought I had a pretty good serve and I’d enjoy belting it to an opponent’s forehand or backhand at will. But former Australian Davis Cup player Colin Long trained my serve by putting tin cans at different spots on the service court. It took a long time to regularly hear the clang of tin, but my ability to serve exactly where I wanted to became a very helpful habit in a pressure situation.

It’s the same in our work teams, in our families. When we are under the pump we will find out if we’ve learnt what we need for success, if we’ve applied it and whether it has become a habit we can rely on, and that others can rely on, too. If you are habitually at your best, not just some of the time, you’ll create an environment where you and your team can do their absolute best. You’ll shine and your attitude will be contagious.

I’m all for singing ‘We are the Champions’ and ‘Simply the Best’ at conferences. Hey, they’re great songs! But what if we allowed the excitement they bring in the conference room to ring through our businesses, our families or our work teams for days and months and years afterwards? Now that would be something worth singing about!
 

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