When to STOP Focusing on Your Goals – Part 3

Does your house key look different from the other keys you carry?

Ever needed to try multiple keys before finding the one that fits and unlocks the door?

Our behaviours are like keys — only specific ones can unlock the results we aim to achieve. When we strive for change, we can’t just modify any random behaviour. We need to change the vital behaviour that carries a disproportionate impact on our success.

But how do we find the vital behaviour that will be our key to success? Is it even possible for the average person to pinpoint the behaviour that will make the difference?


You can look at current research, try your own experiments, or look to the example of others. Here’s how these strategies work.

What Research Already Exists?

If you have a common problem, there’s likely research on that particular issue and the vital behaviours associated with it.

Take weight loss for example. The Weight Loss Council has determined over years of study the factors that set apart the people best at losing weight. Their data shows that people who have lost 13 kg or more and kept it off for 6+ years have three things in common:

1. They exercise on home equipment.

2. They weigh themselves daily.

3. They eat breakfast every morning.

These vital behaviours have a disproportionate impact on their weight loss success.

What problem are you struggling with? Look to see what research is out there about the behaviours that lead to success in that area.

Where Are Others Succeeding?

If you can’t find documented research, observe.

How are people succeeding where you’re failing? What behaviours are they doing differently?

Who’s able to meet their deadlines at work when you’re not? What are they doing differently?

Who’s raising obedient, confident teenagers? Who has a great relationship with their teenagers? What behaviours are they doing differently?

There was a hospital that scored very low on their customer satisfaction surveys. So they asked, “What are other hospitals doing? What can we learn from them so we can do things differently? What are their vital behaviours that make the most impact? “

They sent out two teams to observe the best hospitals. They instructed these teams to find the individuals who get the highest ranking on their surveys and see what they do.

The teams went out and found people at different hospitals and their own hospital. They went online. They made phone calls.

Though their observations, they identified these five vital behaviours that made a big impact on customer service results:

  1. Smile when you encounter a customer.
  2. Make eye contact.
  3. Introduce yourself.
  4. Tell them what you’re doing and why.
  5. End the conversation with, “Is there anything else you need?”

Those five behaviours changed their results. When they changed these five behaviours, they transformed their customers’ experiences.

If you can’t find your own vital behaviours, and you don’t know where to start, look and see where someone else is doing it well. If you’re not succeeding in a particular area, learn from someone who is.

What Can I Try On My Own?

Sometimes finding the key behaviour requires some trial and error. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m just sitting at my desk without the resources to conduct a big study — can I really figure this out?” Absolutely — just be willing to experiment.

You may not find the vital behaviour on the first try. That’s okay. Many influencers address different behaviours before the find the one that works best. Keep at it and see if you can identify a behaviour that unlocks the power of change.

Changing Vital Behaviours Changes the World

When you change vital behaviours, you unlock powerful results — results that are inspiring.

Look at what some of the best influencers have done:

Mimi Silbert

Ninety percent of her rehabilitation graduates never return to drugs or crime. Without a penny of government funding and with no licensed therapist on staff, she’s helped 14,000 people come through the Delancey Street Foundation with a very low rate of return to crime.

Howard Markman

He developed a marital communication training based on vital behaviours. Those attending the training focus on how to communicate with their significant other — which reduces their chances of divorce by 30%.

Dr. Wiwat

He helped cut new HIV infections by 80%. The Thai government has estimated that Dr. Wiwat’s influence has kept five million people healthy that otherwise would have been infected with the AIDS virus.

How did they do it? They identified the behaviours that needed to change for outcomes to change.

The strategies for influencing change are accessible to everyone. Focus on behaviours, not outcomes. Get creative and have fun trying new approaches.

What could you do with more influence? What impact will you have? The difference you can make will astound you.

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