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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

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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 March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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