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10 Things Unsuccessful People Keep Doing

10 Things Unsuccessful People Keep Doing

So many people grow up with what I like to call a “fairy-tale attitude”: They simply think that everything will end up working out for them, as if their life is so much more important than everyone else’s. While they may be the star of their own show, they’re certainly nothing special to the world without ever doing anything to prove their worth.

If you want to work hard to add something to the world, and increase your chances of success, make sure to avoid practicing any of the following habits.

1. Procrastinating

Time is a valuable asset that cannot be replenished. So why would you spend time putting off your obligations? The unsuccessful don’t realize that those obligations are only going to pile up higher and higher the more you sweep them into the corner. Avoiding responsibilities only makes it that much harder to face them when push comes to shove.

2. Placing blame

It’s easy for the unsuccessful to blame others for their mistakes, but it doesn’t get them anywhere.

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Owning up to your shortcomings allows you to grow as a person. Realize that it’s totally fine to make a mistake (as long as you only do it once), but it’s never okay to make someone else take the fall when you screw up.

3. Minimizing others’ achievements

I think everyone at one point has read about someone else’s accomplishments and thought “Psh, I could have done that if I tried hard enough.” But did they? No, they didn’t; otherwise it’d be their face on the cover of TIME magazine, not the other person’s.

Give credit where credit is due, and you’ll realize that it’s not only talent that gets you ahead; it’s what you do with that talent that really matters.

4. Consuming

Unfortunately, we live in a society that glorifies consumption. TV shows are on whenever you want, stores are open 24 hours a day, and credit cards make it easy to hop on Amazon and buy yet another gadget you’ll use for a few days then toss into your closet.

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Instead of constantly taking from society, do something to give back. Create something for other people to enjoy; you’ll realize it’s even more rewarding than consuming something created by others.

5. Talking too much

Again, our society seems to value those who talk a good game, regardless of whether or not they follow through with their words (just watch any political debate to verify this). Not only do the unsuccessful talk too much and act too seldom, but they also lack proper listening skills.

Take the time to actually hear the messages other people’s words are saying, rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. You might actually learn something.

6. Making assumptions

So many people let their prejudices place a veil over their world. It’s never healthy to assume you know what someone else is thinking or feeling, yet that is the default practice of the unsuccessful.

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Until you’ve walked in another person’s shoes and seen the world from their perspective, you have absolutely no right to assume that they are stupid or wrong just because their viewpoints clash with yours.

7. Acting negatively

Naysayers are the party-poopers of the real world. While others are busy searching for solutions to problems, negative people throw in the towel, thinking “Why bother?” or “That’ll never work.”

Such a defeatist attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you come up to the plate thinking you’re going to strike out, you almost certainly will.

8. Making excuses

We spoke before about placing blame, but it’s possible to make excuses while not pointing the finger at someone else specifically. Unsuccessful people always have some reason lined up for why they failed to complete a task: “I had too much else going on,” “It was impossible to do in that amount of time,” and so on.

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Making an excuse is only an admittance that you couldn’t overcome the difficulty placed upon you.

9. Being fearful

Many unsuccessful people are unsuccessful because they’ve simply never put themselves “out there” and tried to accomplish something. This goes along with their negative attitude: They’re scared of failing, so they don’t even try. Unfortunately, what they don’t realize is that failure can eventually lead to success if they learn from it. But they’ll never succeed if they’re too afraid to try.

10. Quitting

Some unsuccessful people try, then fail, then quit. I could go on ad nauseum about the many successful people of our time who failed over and over again, only to change the world when they finally got it right. Thomas Edison didn’t just one day invent the light bulb, and the Wright Brothers didn’t just one day create the airplane. They worked through trial and error, figuring out what worked and what didn’t, until they perfected their invention — and went from daydreaming hopefuls to successful inventors.

Featured photo credit: Failure Scrabble / Jeff Djevdet via http

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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