February 2021 - on the difference between a habit and a routine, drawing distinctions, and the Mars landing
Hi and welcome! I’m Richard Brisebois and this is my newsletter in which I share some of my writings as well as interesting articles, interviews and research about management, leadership, and strategy.
My apologies for this issue not dropping at its usual time. I was moving last week. At least, that’s what I thought I was doing…
For the sake of delivering relatively on time, here’s something, It’s not everything, but -as they say back in the neighborhood- it’s not nothing.
By far the most substantial piece of content I read in the last month is from Jay Rosen. He is a press critic who writes about the media and politics. He is a professor at the School of Journalism at New York University.
Here is how it starts:
And here are some of the distinctions he draws in this Twitter thread:
Public vs. audience
Journalism vs. the media
Truth-seeking vs. refuge-seeking
Political vs. politicized
Issues vs. troubles
Ritual vs. transmission
Expect vs. predict
Subscription vs. membership
He says that
For distinctions to work, the terms have to be sufficiently close that prying them apart clears space for thought. If I write, "bending is not the same as breaking," well, who said it was? That one is going nowhere. But "naked is not the same as nude" is an idea with legs.
It’s not just semantics. Well, it is, but it’s more than that. It’s a show of clarity of ideas in your field of endeavor. In his case, it’s media and politics.
And it occurs in all fields.
Just last week, I bumped into a few more instances:
My friend and colleague Ed Carvalho invited us to draw a distinction between intelligence and intellect;
And then this one in the Harvard Business Review between habit and routine:
When we fail at forming new patterns of behavior, we often blame ourselves, rather than the bad advice we read from someone who doesn’t really understand what can and cannot be a habit.
A habit is a behavior done with little or no thought, while a routine involves a series of behaviors frequently —and intentionally— repeated. A behavior has to be a regularly performed routine before it can become a habit at all.
The problem is that many of us try to skip the “routine” phase.
There are other distinctions that Rosen does not discuss in his thread, including
Lying vs. bullshitting
Experience vs. expertise
Exit, voice, and loyalty
Information overload vs. filter failure
Anyone who took part in one of my leadership development programs will have heard me discuss exit, voice, “loyalty”/conformity, and sabotage as a way to distinguish how different people react differently to finding themselves in conflict situations.
The take-aways from this piece?
When in doubt, draw a distinction;
Doing so is a way to manifest that you are a thinker - that you don’t take things at face value but you do reflect on them and come out with your own thoughts;
Drawing distinctions is also a manifestation of where you put your attention, that is, what your field of endeavor really is.
And since a lot of readers of this newsletter are managers then it begs the question: are your distinctions mostly about the domain of expertise that preceded your becoming a manager or are they about management itself?
Hit Reply to this message and let me know.
Go ahead. Call me a geek. I won’t mind.
And, a propos of nothing, feel free to make a distinction between a nerd and a geek :)
March is a month of equinox, daylight savings, shamrock, Ides, and some madness. Make it a good one.
Don’t let your guard down just yet. Stay safe.