As per the American Journal of Psychology (1903): “A habit is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.” The process by which new behaviors become automatic is habit formation. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form because the behavioral patterns we repeat are imprinted in our neural pathways, but it is possible to form new habits through repetition.
In that case, why not do small meaningful things every day in such a way that they become habit forming and lead to better productivity, principled living and a general feeling of well-being and a sense of great achievement.
This is by no means a small task to achieve by anybody, let alone young children. It requires introspection and discipline. But neither is it rocket science that can be understood by just a few.
Habits are the natural laws that are so built into our system that they drive everything that we do.
Exploring these thoughts, we found many schools in the USA follow the principles of habit formation driving all that the school community does. The Gurukuls in India always worked on the same principles. A little more exploring led us to schools following Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Effective People to improve organizational effectiveness and to imbibe the same habits in young students. These ‘Leader in Me’ schools consciously chose to make leadership their main theme and worked on the principle of personal growth leading to collaborative working.
Understanding how a non-threatening and non-judgemental environment focused on children setting goals for themselves helps children understand their own selves better, we took upon ourselves to help each child develop the leader within. The start point is helping children develop these 7 Habits, step by step, one at a time.
Steven Covey spent more than three decades studying, practicing, teaching and refining the 7 habits. He sought to make these accessible to all as an act of service. These habits are primarily about building character, helping people become effective leaders of self. As Jim Collin says, “There is no effectiveness without discipline and there is no discipline without character. Great Leadership begins with character. It is primarily a function of who you are, for this is the foundation for everything you do.”
The stepping stone to building leaders is building character. By helping children imbibe these 7 habits we help them work on personal effectiveness, in turn, developing leadership skills.
Team I-LEAD has a monthly event called “Champ Fiesta” where we honor students who have been recommended by teachers , who have won accolades in academic and non-academic areas. The event is organized by the students for the students. The organizing team of students is headed by a teacher. The first batch of children was given a brief about the 7 Habits. Keeping the Second Habit (Keep the End in Mind) in mind, the children went about creating a plan for the event and then made their checklists for planning and organizing the event. When disagreement came about, they were then reminded of the Sixth habit (Synergize: Work as a team).
After the event, each child sat and did a self-analysis of how well they had used each habit and where did they feel they could improve. It was an amazing learning for us to see that each one could reflect on their weak areas and have a plan for improvement.
After each event, one can see the improvements in each one of them in terms of quality of school life. This is the Power of Habits.
“Leaders for Life” is what we aspire to see in each and every child and every member of the Khaitan Learning community.