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In July of 2011, I heard someone casually mention that Amy Winehouse had died, I was saddened then heartbroken. That day, I listened to Wake Up Alone about 10 times while I considered my love for her as an artist.
I’d heard the drug rumors and it became real for me in 2010, when I “Google Imaged” her and pictures of her during both her early career and latter career came up in the results. I saw the later pictures and my jaw dropped. “Oh no…” I said. Neither her talent, her fame nor her money could keep her from herself.
I didn’t look down on Amy Winehouse. I wasn’t surprised by her death. I was grieved because I thought her talent was just so much doper than the little Brit Soul box the industry tried to put her in. (I know I said doper; I came of age in the 1990s). I am a little surprised though that the flats I see of her to promote this movie about her last days still makes me sad. I mean, I’m over Michael Jackson and I actually had a picture of him hanging in my house for a while.
Something about Amy though.
Her addiction was a bad habit. I have my own bad habits – socially acceptable ones like coffee and cursing and Facebook and wasting time. No matter the name of the bad habit I call my own, all of my bad habits serve to do one thing – limit me.
Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow. ~Yiddish Proverb
I consider a small business I worked with recently that’s poised to do a million dollars in business this year. Unfortunately, the business will also probably fail this year because the owners can’t keep their hands out of the money – contractors aren’t being paid, the Department of Labor is always on the line, they’re losing contracts left and right .
I consider the young, superstar executive who was on the rise. He would’ve been the youngest C-level executive in his firm, but during what he thought was his promotion talk, his bosses informed him that his fancy-free fraternizing was a liability and they couldn’t permit him to progress any further. He’d been warned multiple times before, but his refusal to stop philandering cost him a six-figure salary and he spent the rest of his career as middle management.
Habits, for good or for bad, absolutely shape our daily lives. I think it was Stephen Covey who said that “our character is basically a composite of our habits.” They dictate our patterns, every moment of every day and eventually become our character. Habits leave an indelible impression on our personal and professional relationships, so we have just cause to assess our habits and see how they are affecting us.
I’m a firm believer that we are not what we do. That is to say, good people sometimes do bad things and bad people are often found doing good things. But the real power of habit is that it heavily influences how our lives will play out. The levity of our good habits serves to elevate us from one position to another while the weight of our bad habits slows our progress to a grinding halt.
Keep that in mind the next time you’re indulging in your own habits.