Habits and Patterns

Habits and Patterns



“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” ― Warren Buffett

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” ― Lao Tzu

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” ― Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” ― Samuel Johnson

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” ― Jim Ryun

“Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.” ― Gordon Parks

“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.” ― John Irving

“H is for Habit, winners make a habit of doing the things losers don’t want to do.”― Lucas Remmerswaal, The A-Z of 13 Habits: Inspired by Warren Buffett

“The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way. Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state. We are spinning our fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar. The drunken Rip Van Winkle, in Jefferson’s play, excuses himself for every fresh dereliction by saying, “I won’t count this time!” Well! He may not count it, and a kind Heaven may not count it; but it is being counted none the less. Down among his nerve-cells and fibers the molecules are counting it, registering and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes. Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out. Of course this has its good side as well as its bad one. As we become permanent drunkards by so many separate drinks, so we become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work. Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be. If he keeps faithfully busy each hour of the working-day, he may safely leave the final result to itself. He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning, to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out.” ― William James, The Principles of Psychology

“Great people become great due to the framework, routines and habits they have set for themselves” ― Sunday Adelaja

“S is for SCARY! Fear is driven out by action! Bad habits are overcome by good habits.”― Lucas Remmerswaal, The A-Z of 13 Habits: Inspired by Warren Buffett

“Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change.” ― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

“Your frequent failures are the result of your persistent bad habits and undisciplined life.”― Anuj Jasani

Furthermore, each book you read not only teaches you something new but also opens up different ways of thinking about old ideas.” ― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Courtesy of goodreads.com


Our trajectory in life and all our accomplishments are determined by our habits/life patterns. We analyze individuals by their key habits and patterns.

Behavior (culture) and every day outcomes of individuals, communities and nations are different and prominently stand out. These outcomes are determined by their collective habits.

Culture when put under a microscope is literally a collection of habits and behavioral patterns exhibited by a community at large. It is very easy to determine or guess probable outcomes just by studying the habits of an individual, community or a society.

Habits are the corner stone and foundation of our lives.  The adage, “that we are what we repeatedly do “, is very true. Study your everyday habits, patterns closely and change them if you really want better outcomes in life.


Pattern Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

Definition of pattern

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1: a form or model proposed for imitation: Exemplar

2: something designed or used as a model for making things a dressmaker’s pattern

3: an artistic, musical, literary, or mechanical design or form the geometrical pattern of the carpet the strict pattern of rhythm and rhyme for a sonnet— Gigi Marino

4: a natural or chance configuration frost patterns the pattern of events

5: dated: a length of fabric sufficient for an article (as of clothing)

6a: the distribution of shrapnel, bombs on a target, or shot from a shotgun

b: the grouping made on a target by bullets

7a reliable sample of traits, acts, tendencies, or other observable characteristics of a person, group, or institutional behavior patterns pending patterns the prevailing pattern of speech

8a: the flight path prescribed for an airplane that is coming in for a landing

b: a prescribed route to be followed by a pass receiver in football

9: Test Pattern


Definition Habit Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com


an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.

customary practice or use: Daily bathing is an American habit.

a particular practice, custom, or usage: the habit of shaking hands.

a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality: She has a habit of looking at the bright side of things.

Often the habit. addiction, especially to narcotics.

Why habits and patterns are important?

From a goat herder to a multi-millionaire

I have an acquaintance who hails from Western Uganda and narrated his life story to me. His life started from the real raw basics. He had no education and whereas other children his age where studying in school he begun his life journey as a goat herder.

He actually had to sleep with the herd of goats in the same improvised goat shelter. What changed his life trajectory, from a guaranteed life of crippling poverty, to one of opulence, was his ability to discern and model the key and useful habits of wealthy individuals.

He studied the owner of the goats and observed how he had accumulated his herd of goats and cows over time. He went further and sought advise from his boss on how to become rich. His boss simply assured him that time was the great equalizer if he was patient enough to acquire his own goats, have them multiply and build his own herd slowly he was guaranteed to become rich.

He took this advise to heart. He decided to start buying his own goats with the money saved from his salary no matter how small. He was actually applying rule number one in wealth creation “Never spend more than you earn”. He also went ahead to apply rule number two in wealth creation “Always keep on saving and investing to multiply your wealth in the long run”

The goats he bought multiplied and this enabled him purchase cows which in turn enabled him to purchase land and engage in real estate. He further went on to own a fleet of trucks, own a hotel and this was from his humble beginnings as a goat trader.

That is the power of habits/patterns over time. They can create a very interesting life if you allow them to work as intended.

The inverse from Grace to Grass

In the same vein habits can work against you. We had a bright and highly educated individual who had risen through the ranks to become the head of the largest pension body in my country Uganda. His rise was very rapid.

He became addicted to the ‘finer things in life’. The only key issue was that he was spending more than he earned. He was violating rule number one in wealth creation “always spend less than you earn”. Some terrible vices took hold of his life. Gambling, Alcohol addiction and lust.

These vices led him to the gaming tables of Las Vegas in the United States. To fuel this lifestyle, he turned to corruption. Unfortunately, the days of every thief are numbered and eventually he was jailed and is still in prison cells to this day.

That is the power of patterns/habits. They can literally destroy your life if you let bad vices creep and harm your life.

Key Masterpieces

Any works or artifacts in life worth considering masterpieces have been constructed over time. The great novels, magnificent buildings, great art works and all other great accomplishments are derivatives of pattern and habits.

The Mona Lisa, Beethoven’s music compositions, key scientific inventions, atomic energy are all fruits of habits that were cultivated over time. The habits of integrity, diligence, perseverance, curiosity, working hard and smart, never taking no for an answer are key in life.

They produce great outcomes in the long run. Sustainability is key in all that we do. Just grind down and get stuff moving.

Wealthy and poor nations

The same rules of patterns and habits apply to nations. If you study the culture of wealthy and poor nations you will notice marked differences in behavioral patterns.

Wealthy nations have major characteristics and behavioral patterns: corruption is minimal, they value production over consumption and encourage productivity in all spheres, education is highly valued with an emphasis on highly skilled and valued specialties, time keeping is part of their culture, ethics and civic order is a key part of society, law and order are a key aspect of their culture.

The inverse can be found in poor countries: there is a breakdown in law and order, justice is selectively applied, corruption is rampant and unabated, there is a breakdown in ethics, morals and civics, consumption exceeds production, the education sector is not valued, time keeping is not valued, generally society is in disorder and it’s mere survival from day to day.

Our behavior also determines our collective outcome. Patterns and habits work the same way for individuals, communities and nations. There are good and bad patterns/habits. Our task as individuals is to make the finer distinction and choice on which habits/patterns to adopt in our lives.


Regular predictable patterns underpin most of the activities or tasks we undertake. At most, we have less than 3% of all our activities aggregated in a year, occurring as random events. The majority of human beings live predictable and routine lives. Refer to  Odds of 51 Random Events Happening to You | Stacker 

Please remember how we all hate unexpected events happening to us: Random calls, random meetings or unpleasant surprises. We do our outmost to avoid random activity and always try to live within our comfort zones.

It’s also not in the interest of society to have chaos and disorder. It increases stress and strife in our communities. This why predictability and order are the preferred rules in any society. Predictable policies, laid out processes and guidelines are preferred by individuals, organizations, societies and nations.

When you understand the importance of patterns you can start unravelling why things work they way they work. We are always on the lookout for predictability in our lives. Our own personal relationships unravel when our partners become unpredictable.

Stable homes and family life are all run on predictability and regular patterns. The best organizations are also run on precise clockwork functionality, reliability and predictability. We design our devices, houses and all our infrastructure on functionality and everyday use. The key underlying principles are ease of use, reliability and predictability.

Patterns and predictability underpin our functions in society. This is the underlying pillar and foundation for our habits, most of our goals, creative effort and usage of time in our daily lives. We cannot escape this fact and this leads me to habits.


Human Beings unlike other animals are endowed with the will and choice to choose which behavioral patterns to adopt in their daily course of life. This is why the behavioral patterns of siblings, identical twins, fraternal twins are markedly different.

All human beings display unique behavioral tendencies but have the ability to change their individual habits.  Habits underpin the success or failure of our personal endeavors. The CORE of personal development is adopting the right habits, that are sustainable and assist us in the long run.

Role of Religion and Laws

Religion has always played a vital role in society.  The Abrahamic Faiths of Judaism, Christianity, Islam to Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism, Animism all have rules that dictate how we should conduct our behavior in society in order to create harmony and order.

Most of the rules and laws are similar across the different religions. These are what are commonly referred to as morals, ethics and civic rules of society. These religions have written works such as the Torah, Bible, Quran, Baghdavita that spell out their daily living rules in detail.

Humanity has been guided by these rules over centuries and they have assisted to create and promote order in societies. As humanity has progressed and evolved over the centuries it has been necessary to add more formal rules in these ever-complex societies.

Formal Laws and Constitutions

Modern Society has witnessed the explosion of growth of populations and advances in technology and trade. To assist regulate and promote order in society formal laws have been written and adopted in modern state nations.

These laws govern civil and commercial relations among the populations. There are clear rules and consequences for those who breach these rules and laws. These laws assist in the governance of the population across the board.

These laws are normally enforced by police with the assistance of the army when civil order breaks down completely.

Habits: They either make or break us

The personal habits we choose to adopt either make or break us. We have heard of virtues and vices. All religions, philosophers and self-development gurus agree on one thing there are habits to cultivate (virtues) and habits to avoid (vices).

Please see the tables below to illustrate examples of Virtues and Vices

Catholic Doctrine
The 7 Deadly Sins The 7 Virtues
Pride Humility
Envy Charity
Wrath Kindness
Lust Chastity
Laziness Diligence
Greed Patience
Gluttony Temperance
Islamic Doctrine
 Virtues Vices
5Kind Treatment to Animals5Lethargy
6Chastity and Modesty6Gluttony
8Patience and Anger Management8Tyranny
9Respect for Elders  
10Decent Speech  
Buddhist Doctrine
Virtues Vices
Genorosity Killing
Proper Conduct War
Renunciation Abortion
Wisdom Suicide
Energy Capital Punishment
 Aristotle Virtues 
Vice (Deficiency)Virtue (Moderate)Vice (Excess)
Self deprecatingTruthfulBoastful
Steve Covey 7 Habits of Very Effective People
1Be Proactive  
2Begin with the end in mind  
3Put First Things First  
4Think Win-Win  
5First Understand, Then be Understood  
7Sharpen the Saw  
Napoleon’s Hill’s Laws of Success
1Master Mind 
2Definiteness of Purpose 
3Self Confidence 
4Habit of Saving 
5Initiative and leadership 
8Self Control 
9The Habit of doing more than paid for 
10A pleasing personality 
11Accurate Thinking 
14Profiting by Failure 
16Practising the Golden Rule 
17The Universal Law of Cosmic Habit Force 

As illustrated above all the great religions, self development tomes and books emphasize the cultivation of the right habits

The repetition and emphasis on these key habits is not by chance. Human beings will always repeat the same mistakes and errors. This is why cultivation of the right habits is important  


Habit/Pattern Formation

Habits or Pattern formation of great virtues is not easy. They involve self-sacrifice and giving up on some likes. The opposite is true for vices it’s very easy to form vices. Most of us human beings gravitate towards the vices.

The good news is that when we develop and form a good habit it’s easier forming another new good habit. The same is also true about vices when we form a bad vice it’s easier adopting other bad vices. It’s the domino effect in motion.

Anthony Robbins in his seminal book ‘Awaken the Giant within’ captures the essence of habit formation

“Yet in order to succeed, most of the things that we value require us to be able to break through the wall of short-term pain in order to have long term pleasure”. Any type of discipline requires breaking through pain: discipline in business, relationships, personal confidence, fitness and finances.

We need to understand the short -term vs long term consequences, in terms of pain and pleasure. Once we are able to make our decisions against this standard it’s very easy to make great decisions. We will avoid the easy path and shortcuts in our decision-making framework.


Our Standards

Our habits are linked directly to our personal standards. Do we pursue excellence or mediocrity? When we set our standards high, we will change our habits accordingly. We will not tolerate mediocrity as part of our individual brand image.

Study individuals and communities that hold themselves to high standards. Singapore only made the giant leap to a developed country when it’s former leader Lee Kuan Yew decided not to tolerate mediocrity in Singapore.

He started from the basics. Cleanliness standards across the board were elevated. Corporal punishment was introduced to bring order and cleanliness in public places. After that he tackled the education sector. He needed a literate populace to reach the standards he wanted to attain.

By focusing on key sectors, he changed the entire societal dynamics of the country. This was accomplished over time but the country had to endure the pain of change. It was not easy but Singapore landed in the league of nations that are developed despite having very few natural resources to boast of.

The inverse can be witnessed in 3rd World Countries. I live in a 3rd World country and I witness the effects of what low expectations and standards can do to a community. Cleanliness standards are poor, garbage disposal, collection is haphazard at most.

Corruption, cutting queues and disregard of the law are the order of the day. This literally causes pain in society. To understand people, communities and any institution first study what their standards are. What do they tolerate and what do they not tolerate.

When we really want to change our standards have to change. There are no short cuts to be the best you have to behave and act like the best. Emulate what they do on a constant basis and you will find yourself in that podium.

Role Models

The crucial role of ‘Role Models’. Study the best and learn from them. It’s called bench marking and improving from there.

Who is your role model in finances, relationships, leadership, innovation? Study them, read their biographies. It’s important to always have the right role models and emulate them. It’s a short cut to getting the right habits and patterns formed in our lives.


Habits and patterns are critical. Be very aware that your daily routine either makes or breaks you. Strive to get the right habits no matter the pain. It always pays off in the long run.




7 Habits of Highly Effective People  – Steve Covey

Atomic Habits – James Clear

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – James Duhigg

Awaken the Giant Within – Anthony Robbins

Unlimited Power – Anthony Robbins

The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy

Napoleon Hill: Law of Success The 21st Century Edition- Revised and Updated edited by Ann Hartley, Bill Hartley


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