We are the culmination of our habits. As Brian Tracy says, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” It stands to reason, that if we’re not where we want to be, our habits aren’t leading us where we want to go.
In my pursuit of living a rich life, I’ve made it a point to redefine my habits—an intentional choice to swim upstream. I’ve learned that if you want to redefine your life, you must redefine your habits.
For the past seven years, I’ve carried on a Friday tradition of wearing a bow tie. I call it Bow Tie Friday.
The Dare That Became a Habit
When I began my insurance career, I came to work my first Friday in a full suit, dressed for business. As I looked around at everyone else is collared golf shirts, I quickly realized that someone hadn’t let me in on the casual Friday concept.
Immediately, I thought it a novel idea to take a different approach. If everyone else was enjoying casual Friday, I would institute formal Friday. I’ll admit, initially it was initially a fight-the-system mentality. Casual Friday felt too common, too mundane. In a culture laced with common habits, why not do something different?
Once I made my suggestion known to the rest of the office, the barrage began:
”What’s formal Friday?” They asked.
Unsure myself, I quickly said, “I’ll wear a bow tie!”
“I dare you to wear a bow tie,” they heckled.
That was all I needed to hear.
The Motivation to Continue
One of the first days I wore the bow tie, I ran into a longtime family friend who quipped, “What’s with the bow tie? You’re not a bow tie guy, are you?” This puzzled and intrigued me at the same time because this guy was part of the white-collar establishment. In fact, he’s the type I’d expect to see in a bow tie.
But by his suggestion, wearing a bow tie carried a connotation that I was completely unfamiliar with.
I can honestly say I still haven’t figured it out and maybe I’m the connotation. Either way, his comments were the affirmation that I needed. I was going to live an experiment. I was going to embrace the challenge of changing that belief system.
I wanted to redefine what it meant to wear a bow tie.
Could I create a habit that would remind me to live differently, to pursue confidence with a certain humility?
While everyone else dressed in casual attire, could I swim upstream, don a bow tie and at the same time, redefine the cultural perception?
I’m not suggesting that I have, but that has been my mission. Every Friday for seven years I’ve worn a bow tie as a simple reminder to live differently—to pay attention to the details.
That’s what Bow Tie Friday is about for me.
The Rest of the Story
As I began to think about the story of Bow Tie Friday, I saw an eerie similarity in my writing.
While the world pursues its own definition of rich, one defined by financial wealth, can we challenge that paradigm?
On my blog and in my book, I try to unravel what it means to live a rich life.
I’ve heard it said that the decision to change happens at an instant and culture changes one person at a time. Culture-shifting change always begin with a vision and are followed by a group of passionate individuals who are willing to live differently.
And that’s where you come in.
When I began Bow Tie Friday, I never intended it to be a thing or anything close to a movement. But as I pay attention to what is happening, I’m beginning to see that Bow Tie Friday is much bigger than I ever imagined.
James, a young business owner in Virginia, is heavily involved in his growing community and he’s wearing a bow tie every Friday. He says that the greatest thing about it is the opportunity it provides for conversations.
Bill, a tie-hating, work-from-home-in-his-pajamas entrepreneur, even donned a bow tie as a tribute to our tradition.
Al began wearing one and leads a men’s study group at his church in Georgia.
But here’s the question: Will you join us?
We must create habits that keep our eyes focused on our vision for our lives. These habits must move us toward the person we’d hope to become. Wether it’s Bow Tie Friday or something else, you must take an inventory of your habits and give an account for how you’re spending your days.
I wear a bow tie to remind myself that being rich isn’t about my wallet, it’s about my heart. True richness in life is built upon our capacity for generosity, gratitude, and humility.
When I can learn to cultivate those characteristics, I am shaped by them and, in turn, I begin to shape those around us as well.
Change always begins with one person who is willing to swim upstream.
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About the Author
Matt Ham is primarily a husband and father to three boys. As an author and speaker, he is dedicated to guiding others toward living a rich life. Through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover fullness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment in both their professional and personal lives.
You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com
To contact Matt or inquire about his speaking schedule, visit www.mattham.com/speaking