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19 October 2012

My experiments with identifying 6 Habits that a young man should develop....

In 1933, Robert Littell wrote an article in Harper's Magazine titled 'What Every Young Man Should Know'. This article talks about various habits that a young man should develop and lessons that a young man should know. Mr.Littell talks about the habits considered important in the US during that period. The Littell list include habits like 'Learning to fire a gun' which I personally find abhorrent.

So I thought about it. Why not I write about the 6 habits that in my opinion every young man should develop.   It should be simple, I thought to myself. If Littell can, so can I, decided me.

So I set to work. Identifying six habits may be a bit difficult, but worth a try, I felt.

If you start identifying the 6 habits, you might as well start with a title. What is an article or a blog post without a title? A title is like a foundation. Every article need one.

Stands to reason.

So I started off the article with the title '6 Habits that every young man should develop'. Having got that one behind me (I meant, deciding on the title) I felt charged up.

I started off with Goal Setting, Perseverance, Hardwork, Integrity, Sense of Humour and Chivalry. In about a minute and a half, I had made it to 6. I was done.

That was easy.

I felt a little disappointed. That was not much of a challenge. I expected a bit more of a struggle.

Wait a minute..What about Patience? 

Ok. I will add this one. I added patience and I changed the title of the article to '7 Habits every young man should develop'. I had got it done, I thought.

I looked at the title. Why not make it '7 Habits of highly effective teenagers'? After all, today's teenagers are tomorrows young men. Also, more teenagers will like it if you call them young men. '

Catching them young, if you see what I mean. Just to be sure that it is an original title, I googled it in Bing.

I found that Sean Covey, son of Stephen Covey had already usurped that title.

Damn you Covey.

I was stuck with my old title. I didn't want any copyright war with Covey.

Now came Gratitude. What about me, it asked. Surely I have to be in that list. Of course, it had to be. I added Gratitude to my list

And my title changed to '8 Habits......'

Whatever be the goals that you set for yourself, you cannot attain it unless you start it. Only if you take the first action and start off will other habits like perseverance gets any meaning. Without action, perseverance is like a stool without any legs. What it will will persevere with? So 'Taking Action' got itself added as the 9th habit.

And changed the title of my article to '9 Habits....'. Of course.

I was fast losing control of my article.

By now I was becoming desperate. This task of identifying the habits seemed to have no end. There are so many of them out there. There was no way I was going to end this article. 

Then I remembered that a young man should not get desperate. You have to maintain calm among pressure. I remembered the old saying, 'Be like a duck. Appear calm above, but paddle like crazy beneath'. So I added 'Maintaining Calm' as my 10th habit.

And changed my title to '10 Habits.....'

That is it I am done. So I thought. Nice round number of habits. I had finished. Finito. The end.

I heaved a sigh of relief. It was scary. What if I was not able to end this article. The article would remain incomplete. I would feel incomplete. An unfinished task will forever remain etched in my conscience.

Being able to stop is as important as being able to start. I remembered all those silly coves who invest in stock market, reach their target, and without selling, remain invested and lose all their gains.

I should know. I had been there. I still am.

So got the habit 11 added to my ever expanding list. 'Learn to stop'. Eleven is not a very round number. So I added 'Teamwork' as the 12th habit to make it to a nice little dozen.

Changed the title of my article of course...

By now my list of habits was expanding uncontrolled like the universe. Or like US Fiscal Deficit.

Other habits came in torrents. What about us, asked 'Reading and Writing', put us under 'Communication Skills' said they. Without me, the young man will not be able to face any tough situations in life, warned 'Optimism'. 'Setting the goal is fine, but what about identifying the right goal to set', warned the habit that I will call 'Focus on the important' (also known as, 'Don't sweat the small stuff').

By now I had fifteen of them and counting. I can immediately see 'Keep Faith on God and Yourself' making a grand entry as the 16th in the list. 

Yesterday, while doing my exercises in Gym, I remembered that nowadays most young men only sit in front of their computers, uploading photos in Facebook or writing blog posts. A young man has to spend most of his life outside, managing people and ethically manipulating the world to ensure that he get what he deserves. To do this, he has to be 'Out there'. That got into my list as Habit 17.

My title got modified, of course.

They say old habits die hard. It stands to reason that my young man should be able to Stop Bad Habits and Start New Good Habits. My young man should 'Learn to Learn', whatever that means. That was  habit number 18.

The other day I was reading an HBR article on the key trait of leaders as 'Resilience'. Successful leaders are always resilient. That mean that my young man has to learn this habit. So there is my 19th Habit for the young man.,

I listed my selection of habits as below.

1. Persistence and Hardwork
2. Hardwork
3 Intellectual Integrity / Assertiveness
4 Sense of humor
5 Chivalry
6 Taking that first step / Taking action.
7 Patience
9 Gratitude
10 Reading and Writing
11 Team work
12 Goal setting
13 Ability to handle criticism positively
14 Don't sweat the small stuff / Identify what is important
15 Optimism and Positivity
16. Keep faith in God and Yourself
17. Be out there
18. Learn to Learn / Stop old habit and Start new habit
19. Be resilient. Don't let bad experiences get you down.

These are my 19 habits you Mr.Young Man.

Looking at my list, the 'Littell List' look more of a 'Little List'. Mine is more of an essay.

To make matters worse, I have a vague suspicion that I am not done. There are more habits waiting to be discovered.

And that gives me heebie-jeebies.

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