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4 Common Issues People Have That Kill Their Great Potential

4 Common Issues People Have That Kill Their Great Potential

The sad truth about life is that most people never even come close to reaching their maximum potential. Yes, it is true that some people are born with greater advantages and a higher potential, but does that really matter if we are unable to come close to reaching our own? Often, it is difficult for us to see the issues within ourselves that are holding us back. True self-reflection is not easy, but if you are able to do so, you are already way ahead of others on your self-improvement journey. There are 4 common issues that most people have that are killing their great potential – can you honestly look within yourself to see if any of these apply to you?As Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

1. Always Comparing Yourself to Others

Humans are social animals and as such we are highly influenced by the society around us. Because of this, comparing ourselves to others is inevitable. While we will never be able to entirely free ourselves from this, we can take steps to minimize it and even use it in our favor.

The problem with always comparing ourselves to others is this: success is personal. Success means something different from one person to another. So while you may be envious of a wealthy friend, your friend might be envious of your success with personal relationships!

Another problem is that making an apples-to-apples comparison can be damaging for your self-worth. If you just managed to muster the self-discipline to train for and complete a 5K run, comparing yourself to your friend who runs full marathons every 3 months might cause you to question whether what you are doing is ‘worth it’ or whether you are any good at all.

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So what to do about it? The first step is to be clear in your goals and really think about what constitutes success to you. Don’t accept the standard definition. Secondly, when it comes to these apples-to-apples comparisons, use it as motivation instead. Tell yourself this: “Wow, if that person, who is human just like everybody else, can accomplish that, I can too!”

2. Lack of Self-Awareness

While this appears at number two on our list, in terms of importance, it really should be number one. You cannot begin to improve yourself if you don’t know what you need to improve upon in the first place.

The dilemma is this: how do you solve the problem of lacking self-awareness when you don’t realize that you lack self-awareness in the first place (because you lack self-awareness)? It’s an infinite loop.

Well, since you’re reading this article, begin right now by asking yourself: “What are the aspects of my actions and personality that need to change for me to get where I want to be?”

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And if you really are unable to determine what those aspects are, get a trusted friend and ask him or her for honest and critical feedback on how others perceive you. Tell them not to hold back and don’t be surprised when the answer is not exactly what you want to hear, which leads us to the third problem…

3. Being Unable to Take Feedback

Fact: no one likes being criticized. Criticisms, more often than not, are a stinging blow to our egos and self-image. The most common reaction to being criticized is being defensive; we attempt to rationalize away our errors to soothe our bruised egos.

However, if we never learn to take objective feedback and improve ourselves, we will never reach our full potential. Honest feedback lets us know where we are lacking and how we can improve. It is a gift to be appreciated and not an insult to be scorned.

Here’s the rub: there is a difference between criticism and feedback. While the line is often blurry, in general criticism tends to devalue which is why it often feels so personal, while feedback focuses on how you can improve. Unfortunately, as we go through life, we will find ourselves receiving just as much (if not more) criticism than feedback.

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There’s no way around this fact, all you can do when it comes to criticism is to look for the little nugget of objective feedback contained within it. Don’t get defensive, and don’t take it personally. Remember that harsh criticism often reveals more about the critic than you.

As Oscar Wilde says, “criticism is the only reliable form of autobiography.”

So the next time someone gives you criticism or feedback, ask yourself: “How can I use this to improve myself and bring myself closer to my goals?”

4. Fear of Failure

Have you heard of the term ‘loss aversion’? People would naturally prefer to avoid losses than to acquire gains. While this may have been a necessary trait back in our hunter-gatherer days, this no longer holds true today. Yet, this nature continues to prevent us from taking necessary action in our lives.

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Shame is also strongly linked to the fear of failure. Psychologist Michael Lewis has called it ‘the quintessential human emotion’. When we fail, we feel shame: shame at letting others down, shame at letting ourselves down, shame at not being good enough. So how do we avoid this feeling? By avoiding taking action of course!

There is no question that our fear of failure holds us back. We fear the consequences of failure. However, more often than not, the consequences of failure are not as drastic as you imagine. The actual consequences are exaggerated by the expectation of shame. Remember the saying, FEAR is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real.

This is a reason why entrepreneurs are so idolized in modern society; we see these people bravely face the fear (and reality) of failure over and over again and still come back swinging and wish we could be the same way.

The good news is, you can! I am not telling you to leap in blindly, but rather to do a proper cost-benefit analysis of an action to determine its validity. Ask yourself this question: “Am I avoiding this action because of real consequences, or is it just my fear?” “Are the consequences of failure really as drastic as I am imagining them to be?”

The issues identified here are simple to explain, but not easy to fix. Nonetheless, we hope that by bringing some of them to light you will be better able to recognize these issues within yourselves and begin the process of overcoming them.

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Ian Lee

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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