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We live in a time of hyperconnectivityComplexity and fragmented attention.
For entertainment, people used to watch stage performances that lasted several hours. Then came modern audiovisual films that run for 90 minutes. A decade ago we welcomed YouTube, where the average video lasts 11.7 minutes. Even that proved too long for distracted minds, and social media found a sweet spot in 15-second TikTok clips that were curated — on autoplay — by an algorithm that knows us better than we know ourselves.
We see this trend in education. Studies used to last three or more years. Then came diplomas and certificates. Today, people are engaging in microlearning and proudly sharing their nano badge or micro credential that they earned in a matter of weeks, days, or hours.
Books became blinks, letters became tweets, and hostilities became microaggressions. How can future leaders navigate in a world of habitual busyness and micronized attention? Sustained concentration is difficult. Unbound, our thoughts search for novelty and relief. Fast video clips, for example, require minimal engagement with the promise of a dopamine hit.
Is order crumbling into chaos? Can we ever enjoy slow travel, intense work, or a long novel again?
Maybe we’ll see entropy in action. Order and energy dissolve into cosmic dust, unfortunately in the form of 15 second clips of dancing teenagers.
Also see: We Are What We Repeat: How Building Habits (and Achieving Success) Feel Effortless
Building a stable state
In fragmentation lies the potential for creation—an opportunity to reassemble the pieces into a more coherent whole. Aristotle advocated holism as opposed to reductionism, proposing that an organism is greater than the sum of its parts. Remove any component and the system becomes unstable, even sick. A complex system strives to create vitality in its inner environment while achieving balance with the outer environment. This phenomenon is called homeostasis – or the establishment of a stable state.
How can we consciously assemble the building blocks of our lives into a formation that is coherent, stable, resilient to external stressors, and perhaps even antifragile, enjoying life’s inherent impermanence?
Micro habits and macro change
In his bestselling book Atomic Habits, author James Clear explains how implementing small positive habits leads to dramatic results and lasting change. Stanford professor BJ Fogg agrees in his book Tiny Habits.
The premise of both approaches is to identify who you want to become, and then break down that identity into microhabits that can be incrementally built upon as you gain momentum. Remember that change creates an imbalance. Whether you want to change yourself or your organization, you will encounter resistance. Because changes disturb the stable state, even if they ultimately lead to a positive result.
Have you ever wondered why most New Year’s resolutions and diets fail, so many gym memberships go unused and change management initiatives take years? Simply because we tend to avoid discomfort and maintain stability.
Also see: Exploring the 10 Habits of Being a Successful Entrepreneur
The power to start small
By activating microhabits, you covertly bypass resistance to change. Instead of jogging for half an hour when you want to get fit, just put on your running shoes first. Once this habit is as reliable as brushing your teeth, you get to stage two, which might be going to your front door. Prepare your environment by leaving clues and triggers. Attach new microhabits to habits that are already robust and reliable.
A participant in one of my workshops decided to implement a microhabit of doing five push-ups every time he brewed his morning coffee. A year later, he had completed over 1,600 push-ups, which he otherwise would never have attempted. In his sophomore year, he doubled the effort and managed nearly 4,000 push-ups. The momentum spilled over into other areas of his life. He was a person transformed through a practice that took less than a minute each day.
how to start
James Clear says if you get 1% better every day, by the end of a year you will be 37 times better. For granularity, I calculated that 1% of 16 waking hours per day is 9.6 minutes.
Can you devote 9.6 minutes to your growth today and every day of your life? If not, something has to change. If yes, what will you do?
Here are some ideas to fill 9.6 minutes:
- 2 minute stretch after waking up
- 2 minute breathing exercise to establish a baseline of calm
- 1 minute to identify 3 things that went well (gratitude exercise)
- 2-minute high-intensity exercise, e.g. B. Jumping
- 2.6 minutes for a conscious micro-break in the afternoon (go outside if possible)
Alternatively, you can watch 36 TikTok videos. You are the sum of your habits. what will you choose
See also: 6 things leaders do to stand out from the crowd
Rebuild your life and leadership
You have the opportunity to rebuild your life from scratch. As microhabits become internalized, you can increase the scale of the ones you find most impactful. Eventually you will become a calm, grateful, fit, healthy, focused, or positive person.
Implement these rhythms with your team. Encourage micro-pauses, mindful moments, power poses, shorter meetings, and sharing quick wins. Identify who you are as a collective—your purpose and values—then activate the microhabits that lead to that identity.
In a web of positive habits you will find space, energy and freedom. Instead of chaos and fragmentation, you create regenerative systems that are greater than the sum of their parts.