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7 Dumb Things That Smart People Do To Undermine Their Success

7 Dumb Things That Smart People Do To Undermine Their Success

You would be surprised at how many smart people wake up at night and wonder what went wrong with their careers. They had it all going for them. They joined the best company at the right time, they had excellent qualifications and yet, somehow, they have not advanced to the point where they can look with pride at what they have achieved. Here are 7 things they have overlooked along the way.

1. They forget to develop a good support system.

They all know about teamwork and perform it religiously, but they never develop a real support system. They fail to realize that everybody needs advice from the experts in their field who will guide them and help them learn.

They never realize the potential for learning from these competent and kind people and they forget to seek them out. They are not easy to find. You need trustworthy, competent people in your support system.

If you neglect to build this, you may find yourself in a bind when you need last minute help or some candid feedback on your project. Sharing one’s knowledge is the other side of the coin and is always a great investment.

“Be nice to the people on your way up, because you’ll also be seeing them on your way down.” – Unknown

2. They underestimate the fallout from negative thinking.

These smart people can immediately see what is wrong with the policy, projects and company procedure. They are somewhat frustrated that they cannot influence company policy as they would like. Guess what? This is what comes across as complaining and not being proactive enough to get things moving.

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Negative thinking is one major factor that gets in the way of most careers. The whiners are usually at the top of the list of people who will be laid off.

Cynthia Shapiro has outlined this in her book Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know—And What to Do About Them.

“Don’t ever publicly complain, disagree or express a negative view.” – Cynthia Shapiro

3. They neglect to do their own PR.

This is about building relationships at every level. That is why they have to build bridges all the time with everybody who will have a say in their promotion or downfall.

They do not realize that qualifications, skills and successes are not enough. They do not volunteer to take on new responsibilities and do not seek out unique ways to raise their profile within the company.

In fact, success, knowledge, qualifications and brilliance have a habit of irritating some people and they come across as being too pushy. This is all the more reason to get going on their own PR. If they neglect that, nobody else will properly do it for them.

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4. They do not understand the risks of multitasking.

Lots of managers and leaders seem to thrive on multitasking. They may do for various reasons, like pressure of time, stress, looming deadlines and so on. They might think it is even a more efficient way of keeping everything under control.

Researchers at Stanford University have found that there is no substitute for doing one thing at a time. In fact, they have found that being bombarded with several streams of information affects their memory, focus and attention to detail.

Multitaskers have problems in sifting irrelevant details and when they do have to switch to another task, they are actually slower than their one task at a time counterparts.

5. They become too complacent.

They have gotten the job they’d wanted and their upward path is almost guaranteed. Well, not quite. The danger here is that many managers just assume that they can take it easy. They fail to grab chances to widen their skills set and even keeping up to date on technology.

They also neglect to find out what is going on in their industry. Other leaders tend to neglect details and start to cut corners.

Some of them cannot even be bothered to join the relevant professional organizations and they pass up opportunities on joining various committees which are extremely useful for career advancement, as they can be in the loop as to what is changing.

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The dizzying changes in technology alone are frightening and they need to be up to speed on this and many other aspects of their business. Complacency has ruined many careers.

6. They do not realize the value of networking.

Many managers and leaders are so wrapped up in their own career goals that they neglect an essential task of networking outside the company. They fail to see the potential of personal, operational and strategic networking.

At the strategic level, they may miss out on getting stakeholder support for future challenges. They may fail to see the potential at the personal level of using these contacts for their own professional development.

At the company level, they are not exploiting useful contacts for information, trends and developments in their industry.

7. They lose touch with their values and ethics.

“Character is the quiet, reserved, value-creating force of the person, untouched by circumstances or external pressures.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

After some time, there is a risk that many managers and employees go on autopilot. What happens then is that their values, ethics and drivers get shoved down on the list of priorities.

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It is an alarming fact of life that you will hear more colleagues complaining about their bad eyesight, memory or hearing than about questioning company ethics, values and their own character defects. It is frightening to reflect that bad management is often the result of thousands of tiny surrenders of certain values and ethics which are eroded on a daily basis.

Do you think that your career is at risk because of one or more of the above scenarios? Have you made one of these dumb mistakes? It may be time to take stock.

Smart people who succeed have always worked hard and they never stop building relationships. Above all, they never lose sight of their own strengths and weaknesses and they are keenly aware that they must never become complacent or negative.

Featured photo credit: Manager for a day/ FTTUB via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 16, 2020

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.

However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.

“Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous

Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.

1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.

When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.

Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success.[1] As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’

2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).

That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”

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Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.

3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.

If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.

For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.

People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.

This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.

4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.

Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.

Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!

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Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.

Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

5. Crack a smile.

If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.[2]

Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?

6. Break a sweat—with exercise.

Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.[3]

And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.

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7. Groom yourself.

This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.

A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.

8. Dress nicely.

Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.

While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.

9. Do activities you enjoy.

Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.

You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.

10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.

Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.

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Why?

Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.

Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.

Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.

Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?

Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!

Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.[4]

The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.

Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

Reference

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