When I went to visit a 94 year-old friend, who still goes to work every day, his son said that one of the things that explains his vitality is his love of routines. This week my wife and I have been caring for our four grandchildren. There have been two things that have struck me. First the cohesion is high. The children know how to live together and there have been few moments of disagreement. Second, they have each internalized growth-oriented routines. When they are home they are moving through their routines. They have so internalized the routines that no one has to tell them to do their routines, they do them automatically. In a week, the television has not been on. There has not even been a request. They are busy performing their personal disciplines and the family seems to function on positive autopilot.
The word routine can mean monotonous, dull, and tedious. Yet routines can be linked to purpose. When they are, they stabilize us and move us on the path to growth. Thinking about this reminds me that I often dread the idea of a new routine. Yet watching my grandchildren reorients me. I would do well to look for new routines that might discipline my life and take me to higher levels of being, and to discard routines that limit me or keep me from growing. In organizations we might also consider what positive routines we could create that are linked to our purpose. These routines will give meaning to our work and move us on the path to growth.