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9 Things That Successful People Don’t Do

9 Things That Successful People Don’t Do

Success is a mindset and a series of habits tied around that mindset. What separates a successful person from an unsuccessful one is the way that they approach life. Picture in your head any person that you think is successful and you will probably find that there are many things that they do and many things that they don’t do. When you picture several of these types of people, you will find a pattern. You too can take your first steps toward success, if you just recreate this pattern. By mirroring some of the things that they don’t do, you too can become successful!

1. They don’t have too many goals

The first biggest mistake that people make is that they don’t set any goals. The second one is that some set too many. Successful people only set a few goals at a time. They know that achieving a goal requires hard work and an intense focus.

People who set too many goals at the same time, often end up not achieving any. This is because working towards a goal requires enormous willpower and self-discipline. Willpower is a finite resource and if you have too many goals, you might spread it too thin, not having enough to even reach even one individual goal.

2. They don’t set goals without figuring out their priorities

This doesn’t mean that successful people don’t achieve several goals, most of them do, but they do it in a smart way by setting priorities and working on just a small number of goals at a time.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower was not only one of the most successful American general of World War 2, he also later became the US President. One of the secrets to his success was the fact that he knew how to set priorities.

He used what we now call the Eisenhower Matrix. He divided up a box into 4 parts, with each part showing how urgent and important each task or goal was. When he had to do multiple tasks, he would prioritize by putting each into one of the squares: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not urgent and not important.

What you can do is write down all your goals on a piece of paper with the one of highest priority at the top. Then go down the list and put a check next to the first and second goals on the list, and strike out all the rest. First focus on these as your priorities. Once you have achieved them, start going down the list.

3. They don’t go about without setting out a plan to achieve their goals

Successful people always have a plan on how to achieve their goals. Without a plan, you are very likely to falter. Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest painters of the 20th century put it this way:

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“Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

4. They don’t set unrealistic goals

When setting goals, they don’t set unrealistic goals, but instead focus on what is possible. Ancient Stoic principles state that you should focus on changing the things that you can change and not worry about the rest. Focus on what is possible to do, and the seemingly impossible will take care of itself.

You should set realistic goals, and go step by step through your plan. Every time you should set mini-goals and work towards them. You should build one goal on top of another.

Michael Jordan described how he went about becoming arguably the best basketball player ever:

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“I approach everything step by step….I had always set short-term goals. As I look back, each one of the steps or successes led to the next one. When I got cut from the varsity team as a sophomore in high school, I learned something. I knew I never wanted to feel that bad again….So I set a goal of becoming a starter on the varsity. That’s what I focused on all summer. When I worked on my game, that’s what I thought about. When it happened, I set another goal, a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough….I guess I approached it with the end in mind. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there. As I reached those goals, they built on one another. I gained a little confidence every time I came through.”

5. They don’t set goals without keeping in mind the benefits that the achievement of those goals will bring them

In order to keep yourself motivated, when setting goals, you need to keep in mind the benefits that achieving that goal will bring you. You might be working towards having a dream body, but in reality the dream body is not the end point. It is the benefits of having a great body, like increased strength and health that are the end point.

6. They don’t have a fixed mindset

Successful people don’t have a fixed mindset. Instead, they know that if they work hard, they will be able to achieve whatever they want. They know that destiny is in their hands and that if they set out to achieve something, they will do it.

7. They don’t complain all the time

One thing that separates the successful people from the unsuccessful ones it that the unsuccessful ones complain and don’t do anything, while the successful ones keep their mouth shut, take what was given to them and get to work. Instead of wasting time complaining, they think about what they can do to change their unpleasant situation. Then they go about doing it.

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8. They don’t let their egos get ahead of them

Successful people also don’t let their egos get ahead of them, but instead stay humble. The ones who don’t lose sight of this principle often end up falling really hard. Hubris is the enemy of success.

They know that life is a series of struggles and that in order to succeed, they need to fail a few times. However instead of giving up, they pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and continue on their journey towards success.

A.R. Rahman, an Indian singer-songwriter described how important staying humble is:

“To be successful, it is also very important to be humble and never let fame or money travel to your head.”

9. They don’t sit on their ass

Successful people never sit on their ass, but instead work hard. They never stop learning, whether from books or from other people. They know that success doesn’t come without effort.

Featured photo credit: Success/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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