Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,” the maxim goes.
Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness or ineffectiveness.
As Horace Mann, the great educator, once said, “Habits are like a cable. We weave a strand of it everyday and soon it cannot be broken.” I personally do not agree with the last part of his expression. I know habits can be learned and unlearned. But I also know it isn't a quick fix. It involves a process and a tremendous commitment.
Those of us who watched the lunar voyage of Apollo 11 were transfixed as we saw the first men walk on the moon and return to earth. But to get there, those astronauts literally had to break out of the tremendous gravity pull of the earth. More energy was spent in the first few minutes of lift, in the first few miles of travel, than was used over the next several days to travel half a million miles.
Habits, too, have tremendous gravity pull more than most people realize or would admit. Breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, criticalness, or selfishness that violate basic principles of human effectiveness involves more than a little willpower and a few minor changes in our lives. “Lift off” takes a tremendous effort, but once we break out of the gravity pull, our freedom takes on a whole new dimension.
Like any natural force, gravity pull can work with us or against us. The gravity pull of some of our habits may currently be keeping us from going where we want to go. But it is also gravity pull that keeps our world together, that keeps the planets in their orbits and our universe in order. It is a powerful force, and if we use it effectively, we can use the gravity pull of habit to create the cohesiveness and order necessary to establish effectiveness in our lives.