My last blog post featured an inspiring verse on the power of habit to enable or enslave us. Our habits make or break us. A habit is a learned behavior causing us to think and act automatically. Many times, we’re not aware of the hundreds of tiny and bigger habits we’ve acquired over our lifetime. Each habit piles on top of another and shapes us into who we are today. These habits create our reality.

Modern psychology’s greatest contribution to our health, happiness, and well-being is showing that we’re not stuck with any of our habits. It may be neither quick nor easy, but we can change any habit. That’s generally done by replacing a bad or unwanted one with a good or desired thought or behavior. Gail Sheehy, the U.S. journalist and author of Passages, writes, “The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests.”

Here are a few suggestions for developing stronger leadership habits from Growing @ the Speed of Change:

• Draw three columns on a piece of paper with Keep, Stop, and Start at the head of each one. List your main habits under each heading. You might want to get a mentor, close friend, coach, spouse, or someone else who knows you well, whose opinion you trust, and who wants to help you improve, to provide input to your lists.

• Subscribe to newsletters, blogs, and other electronic feeds to get regular doses of inspiration, instruction, and affirmation. Collect quotations, tips and techniques, or other improvement ideas to help form the habit you most want to develop. Keep the key ideas you want to focus on in front of you throughout your day.

• Setting personal breakthrough goals that are well beyond your current character, ability, or habits is setting yourself up for failure. That’s why crash diets and so many New Year’s resolutions are abandoned. Build a series of small wins to celebrate, new habits that gather momentum, and you’ll find the confidence to keep you growing.

As Elbert Hubbard, 19th Century American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher and advised, “Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you.”