Friday, July 10, 2015

8 Common Habits That Destroy Your Success

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. We do things intentionally or subconsciously that impede rather than advance our success. The first step in eliminating these destructive behaviors is acknowledging them. Here are eight of the most egregious:

1. Confusing busy with productive
“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”—John Wooden

Let’s face it, you can find enough work activities to keep you busy day, night and weekend. The question is: Are they the right things?

It’s not the hours you put in or the number of items you’re working on simultaneously that make you successful. Focus on the items that have impact.

We measure our success on the busyness scale when in fact we should be evaluating our progress on the activities that will make the biggest impact on our goals. Corporate culture might reward “looking busy,” but true corporate success is the result of focused effort in pursuit of long-term goals.

2. Seeking perfection
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”—Leo Tolstoy

In an ideal world, the pursuit of perfection would not only be noble, it would be rewarded. In the world we live in, it’s a recipe for frustration and a giant waste of time. According to psychotherapistMel Schwartz, “The closest thing to perfection is is the ability to be fully present. Without any distracting thoughts measuring or grading ourselves, we’re free to really be in the moment. It’s in that moment that we’re truly alive. Yet, the perfectionist isn’t typically present as they’re either busy critiquing the past and replaying their every decision or worrying about their future decisions.” Know when it is time to move on and make realistic goals for outcomes. Seeking perfection will either stop you in your tracks or waste energy that could be more productively applied elsewhere.

3. Avoiding risk
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”—William Faulkner

Unless you’re a financial CRM (Certified Risk Manager), complete risk aversion is not a career success strategy. Of course, taking risks like you are a Hollywood stunt person isn’t going to be the most effective approach either. You must take calculated risks that will help you learn and grow. Without risk, you stagnate while those around you flourish and advance. Evaluate risks based on their ability to help you reach your goals, then pursue the ones that give you the best opportunity to move forward.

4. Letting fear impede progress
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”—William G.T. Shedd

Fear can stop you in your tracks. It creates paralysis that causes stagnation. It often ferments in the imagination, where negative images can become larger than reality. If fear is impacting your progress, start with a mindset shift. Rather than letting it keep you from the starting line, let fear become the fuel that helps you take a first important step.

5. Reacting vs. planning
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”—Alan Lakein

Successful people have a plan. They set their goals. They chart a course. They measure success and recalibrate regularly. If you find that most of your activities each day involve responding to other people’s crises or whatever comes to your inbox, you’re squandering energy and time. Unless you work for the fire department, reacting to emergencies should not be your strategy for success. When you’re bombarded with requests that are only going to divert you from your plan, you have three tools to get back on track: delegate, or politely be brief, or hit “delete.” Know your goals. At the end of each day, ask yourself what progress you have made on your goals.

6. Fixing weaknesses
“Over the years, I’ve learned that a confident person doesn’t concentrate or focus on their weaknesses – they maximize their strengths.”—Joyce Meyer
If you are a really boring and nervous public speaker, and your goal is to be the head of sales, you need to work on public speaking because it’s essential to your success. However, most weaknesses do not require attention and remediation. When you spend time “improving” weaknesses that aren’t related to your goals, you take time way from things that will drive results. Focusing too much time on weaknesses is the formula for mediocrity.  If you instead spent that time taking a relevant strength and maximizing it so you can be the best in that skill, it becomes easy for you to stand out and attract the attention of those who are making decisions about you (learn more about maximizing strengths here). That’s the most efficient way to put yourself on the path to success. Ditch mediocrity and focus on your superlatives.

7. Going it alone
“The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.” —Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

This is one of the biggest challenges for some of us: The belief that we are omnipotent and self-sufficient. The most accomplished people in the world know differently. They surround themselves with a tribe and foster lifelong partnerships, participating in a community of the best specialists on the planet. If you go it alone, your only companions will be the exhausting things you don’t do well or don’t enjoy doing.

8. Surrounding yourself with clones
 “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”—Stephen R. Covey

The comfort that comes from being around people just like you has a negative side effect. It causes a blindness that forces you see the world through an impossibly narrow focus. We have all seen managers who hire people just like them, and we all have colleagues who are “yes” men or women. They let ignorance drive action. The most successful leaders surround themselves with a diverse group of people who challenge their thinking and actions, expand their perspective and enlighten them about even grander outcomes


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