A few years ago we had a leaky faucet in our upstairs bathroom. After about three months of gentle reminders, my very patient wife suggested that if I wasn’t going to repair it, then perhaps I should call the plumber. Again, months passed and the drip, drip, drip continued. Eventually Mary took matters into her own hands and called the plumber herself.
The day after Pete the Plumber fixed the faucet, I went to use the sink and discovered that Pete had reversed the threads on one of the handles which meant that when I needed hot or cold water, I had to remember to turn my hand in the opposite direction than I was used to.
I wasn’t happy.
Well, since I’m always challenging my clients to try changing their habits, I decided to see how long it would take me to reprogram myself and learn to turn the handle the new way. Any guess how long it took? (Drum roll please.) It took six weeks!
If you want to become better at breakthrough thinking, you’ll need to begin by challenging yourself to break some of your old thinking habits. It won’t be easy. To get you started, here’s an exercise that will really challenge you to break some of your thinking habits: Start a friendly conversation with someone you don’t like. (It could be a neighbor or a co-worker.) When you talk to that person, see if you can find something you actually like about him or her and then give them a genuine compliment. You may just find that they aren’t as bad as you thought and that it’s possible to reprogram yourself.