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Are You Getting In Your Own Way Without Realizing?

Are You Getting In Your Own Way Without Realizing?

I truly believe that the extent of your success is your good habits minus your bad ones — if we had to put it simply. The typical bad habits you might think of are habits like unhealthy eating, excessive drinking and smoking, etc. But the truth is that we’ve all got hundreds of different habits we are not even consciously aware of. The problem with this is that they affect every aspect of our lives! Are you getting in your own way without realizing?

Of course, it isn’t difficult to see how some of our habits affect our personal lives, but the fact that they actually play a huge role in your professional success isn’t initially as obvious. With entrepreneurship comes independence, and with that comes a lot of responsibility — without a boss to set the rules, deadlines, and consequences, you’re left more vulnerable than ever to letting your bad habits take over!

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If you’re running your own business, or making preparations to, then trying to change your bad habits can seem like something that isn’t urgent and that can be dealt with later. Leaving your bad habits on the back-burner can have a huge impact on how successfully you get your work done and how effectively you manage your company. It’s because of this that getting a more in-depth understanding of your obstacles and how to deal with them is of the utmost importance.

Where do you start? Drop the traditional and somewhat boring exercises you can find online and start by distinguishing between goal-directed responses and context-cue responses. This distinction is crucial to your achievements as an entrepreneur.

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The Intentional Mind Versus The Habitual Mind

In a study published in the Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin (2011) Neal, Wood, Wu, and Kurlander examined the battle between the intentional and habitual minds that exists in every one of us. At the beginning of the study, the participants were able to clearly distinguish between stale and fresh popcorn. Yet, when they were presented with popcorn in a movie theatre, those who habitually ate popcorn at the movies ate the popcorn whether it was fresh or not. In other words, the urge to comply with habit was stronger than the adverse reaction that the participants might have had from the stale popcorn.

What’s the “stale popcorn” in your life?

Can you think of any situations in which your habitual mind won over your intentional mind? If you’ve ever opted to browse through Facebook instead of getting all your work-related calls done or chosen to stay up late watching a movie instead of getting some sleep for an important meeting the next day, then you have.

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If you set yourself some goals or have intentions and then you don’t rise to the challenge and instead give into your old habits, you are playing a win-lose game with yourself. Don’t say you want to be successful and then run away from the things that will make you more successful.

However, if you are setting intentions to change habits, you take action, and you still find it difficult to follow through, there may be conflicting goals which you are unaware of. It is because of these conflicting goals that action becomes difficult, so start by digging deeper into yourself to discover what’s really going on. We get in our own way without realizing when we do things in conflict with where we want to go in life. In business, you can risk doing this.

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Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How many intentions have you set and then not followed through on? Really, take a minute and reflect on it — from procrastinating to empty promises, everything. Get an average number per week of how often you do this.
  2. How do you feel about yourself? Not so good I guess, so why keep doing it?
  3. What would it take for you to throw away the “stale popcorn” in your life and tackle your less obvious but damaging habits?

Here is the truth

The more you listen to your weaker voice (habitual voice), the louder it will get and vice versa. So make the voice of intention louder and rise to the challenges you know will lead you to more success.

If you can’t even control your own habits, what makes you think you can run your own business?

It would seem really silly to undermine your success by ignoring the habits that might be sabotaging it. Warren Buffett has said that “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” The earlier you get ahead of the potential problems that your habits can have for your business, the easier it will be for you to create a sustainable and much more pleasant road to success!

Featured photo credit: Abigail Keenan via unsplash.com

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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