Last November, I stumbled upon an interesting analogy for life strategy – bumper bowling. I know what you’re thinking. It seems completely random and sort of ridiculous. Think about it this way . . .

When you get to the bowling alley, you can bowl “normally” or you can acknowledge your weaknesses and bowl with guardrails.

It’s likely to bruise your ego a bit, but I’ll bet your scorecard will improve. While you may not hit a strike every time, you’ll certainly be racking up points with every attempt.

I’ve learned that we can choose to live life that way too. And it’s pretty much the same trade: eat some humble pie and get significantly better results.

But there’s one really big key: we have to decide ahead of time.

Once the ball is in the gutter, the guardrails won’t do us much good.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Still, we choose to leave the guardrails down. Maybe we just don’t know how to raise them, or maybe we don’t want to broadcast our weaknesses.

I certainly fit both of those categories for a very long time.

And then it hit me. I woke one day to the realization that I’d been living scared (and paying a high price for it).  I also saw some people very close to me stumble. I now believe that we can achieve far more and reduce our chances of having a setback if we’ll just choose to have the “bumpers” installed ahead of time.

Freely chosen, discipline is absolute freedom.
-Ron Serino

I realized that the discipline of having guardrails in place actually generates tremendous freedom. Aside from personal systems, I also began to see that the biggest piece of the guardrail missing was other people.

The idea isn’t new. Back in 1727, a 21 year old Benjamin Franklin formed a “club of mutual improvement” called the Junto. The members of the Junto were drawn from diverse occupations and backgrounds, but they all shared a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves, their community, and to help others. Every Friday night, they gathered to discuss the topics of the day and challenge each other to broaden their knowledge.

Good stuff, for sure. But not a complete solution to the challenges I see.

The next layer comes from the 19th century psychologist William James. “Ninety-nine hundredths or, possibly, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of our activity is purely automatic and habitual, from our rising in the morning to our lying down each night,” James reasoned. Today’s science increasingly supports his discoveries.

Incredibly powerful principles, but still not enough.

For some of us, there’s a stirring inside that won’t go away. We’ve realized that success or material wealth for its own sake is shallow and not fulfilling. We believe that we were put on this earth to achieve a specific purpose with a significant impact, and we can’t rest until we’re moving in that direction.

What if we combine all three?

The result would be a purpose-driven community of mutual improvement, focused on the driving forces in our lives – our habits.

And now it exists.

On Tuesday, I launched habitHQ, an online community that supports each other in achieving purpose-driven goals. It provides encouragement, accountability, and the resources needed to reprogram our habits into the building blocks of success.

The initial group is almost set, and we’re getting to know each other. We start each day with an affirmation and a Proverbs reading. We’re also developing the first draft of our Daily March, providing a customized blueprint for consistent progress.

We’re gathering into smaller groups based on priority areas for habit development: health, productivity, leadership, and relationships. These will turn into “masterminds” that meet (online) at least monthly to brainstorm, facilitate connections, and provide accountability.

In short, we’re starting to build our guardrails.

There’s certainly plenty more work to do, but it feels fabulous to have made the decision and set the course. We know that providing bumpers along the runway will allow our purpose to take flight.

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.
-Helen Keller


Photo courtesy of Flickr/a4gpa