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The Number One Trick to Succeeding When You Screw Up

The Number One Trick to Succeeding When You Screw Up

On our journey to become better human beings, we often look for ways to make ourselves more productive and successful. We seek out the latest tools to help us be more productive, we make massive to-do lists of all the things we’re going to accomplish, and we try to mold ourselves into these mistake-free machines.

Here at Lifehack I’ve read countless amazing articles that focus on boosting productivity, jump starting motivation, and life organization skills. So, instead of giving you another article that focuses on things you’ve probably already read, I want to talk about the one thing that all of us have in common, that can hinder our productivity, and one simple trick that can keep us on track to succeed.

What is this one thing we all have in common that can keep us from achieving our goals? We screw up!

That’s right. We’re human. There’s not a single person on the planet that is exempt from this law of mediocrity. From great people of history like Thomas Edison, to your local coffee shop Barista, we all make mistakes now and then.

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Successful People Screw Up Too

It’s well-known that Thomas Edison screwed up thousands of times while trying to invent the light bulb. Aside from learning what didn’t work, he didn’t focus on his failures. He kept right on focusing on his goal of producing the world’s first light bulb. He was quoted saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And, as we all know, he went on to succeed and achieved his goal.

Another great example is Arlene Dickinson from CBC’s Dragon’s Den. She’s an extremely wealthy Canadian business woman who has said that her main goal in life was to have a happy family. She screwed up by having an affair, losing custody of her kids, and going through a nasty divorce. But, she didn’t let this mistake stop her.  She fought back and went on to become one of Canada’s most respected business women, got her kids back and is now happily engaged. She has been quoted saying that her rebound to success was due to, “…giving myself permission to make mistakes and learning to look for the potential in a situation rather than focusing on the problems.”

Forgive Yourself and Focus on Your Goal

How does this help us? As driven individuals, we have to understand that we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to miss deadlines. We’re going to cheat on our diets. On our path to achieving our goals, there will be times when we fall flat on our face.

Luckily, there is one thing we can do to keep this law of humanity from holding us back, and that is to forgive ourselves.

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People who strive to be more and push themselves to their limits are almost always their own worst critic. A failure to the “perfection oriented” doesn’t need additional attention because, by our very nature, we’ll beat ourselves up ten times more than any outside source ever will. It’s this self-imposed abuse for failing that can sabotage even the most promising achievers.

When we stop and focus on our mistakes, aside from figuring out what went wrong, we’re really not doing ourselves any favors.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s say we’ve been working on a promotion at work for 6 months. We’ve been going the extra mile, staying late, and simply doing everything we can to reach our goal of promotion. The promotion has been our sole focus for months.

Then, one day, for whatever reason, we screw up and miss a deadline on one of our projects.

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Suddenly, we feel like we’ve just completely blown our chances at promotion. We say to ourselves, “Wow, there goes that idea! I’m such a screw up!” and our focus switches from “I’m going to bust my ass to get this promotion” to “I’ve screwed up. I’ll never get this promotion.”

This change in mindset and focus to “I’ll never get this promotion” will cause that belief to become a reality. If we’re thinking, “I’ll never get this promotion.” then that’s exactly what our actions will reflect. We’ll stop staying late, we’ll stop working as hard, and we’ll probably mess up even more.

The key to handling this type of hurdle is found in self-forgiveness. Figure out why we screwed up, learn from it, then get right back to focusing on the goal.

Do not focus on the failure! Forgive yourself and focus on the goal!

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This is how the successful make things happen and overcome screw-ups.

The greatest men and woman in the history of the world have screwed up at one point or another. But, they don’t focus on the failures, they stay focused on the goals and solutions.

The ones who succeed and produce results are the ones who are able to forgive themselves, fully and truly, and get back to focusing on their goals.

So, the next time you make a mistake, just remember: We’re all human. We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle our setbacks that truly define us as achievers and determine how successful we’ll be.
(Photo credit: Young Man Facepalm via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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