The Power of Habit – the Good and the Bad

Silhouette head with the neural connections
Habit: Structured thinking and behavior

“Sow a thought, reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.”
– Unknown

As I reflect on this proverb, I realize that sowing and reaping has been fundamental to human existence for millennia. This agricultural metaphor is germane to so many aspects of our lives; not only in terms of building and growth, but also in the reverse – deconstructing to understand.

I think of significant historical figures – leaders, scientists, artists, athletes – and I wonder how they achieved their renowned status. The many biographies that have been written about them reveal details of their lives that provide insight into the thoughts, behaviors, struggles and crises that shaped the destiny of these individuals.

The Power to Set Personal Standards

Meeting of minds through habitual alignment
Meeting of minds through habitual alignment

I’m encouraged, even comforted, to know that the famed figures of yesterday, today and tomorrow are human. To me, this means that each of us has the capacity and capability through the power of thought (“the seed”) to set standards for ourselves; to establish foundations and build frameworks of behavior (“habit”) that impact our lives and the world around us (“destiny”).How important, then, is the impact of how we think and behave on how we interpret ourselves, how we interact with our surroundings and how we shape our destiny?

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

So, if a positive act is preceded by a constructive thought, if we put our minds to it, we can achieve “excellence” and be the best we can be.

But there is a converse risk: negative thoughts can reap energy-draining habits that prevent us from acknowledging our innate potential and enabling our true capabilities.

Thought, action, habit, character, destiny. Sow positively and constructively, and reap the benefits.
How true is this for you and in your life, professionally and personally?

Share your own examples and what you’re inspired to build on for yourself. I’d be delighted to hear about them.

Austin Freedman

5 thoughts on “The Power of Habit – the Good and the Bad

  1. Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the issues.
    It was truly informative. Your website is extremely helpful.

    Many thanks for sharing!

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  3. What an astute and inspiring blog, Austin. Thank you for explaining it so eloquently. We all need to remember Aristotle’s saying about repeating the good habits until they become routine. I’ve found that whenever I commit to a new habit for 21 days it becomes 99% effective. That’s amazing! So keep educating and entertaining us with your wise perspectives.

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