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10 Things Smart People Don’t Do

10 Things Smart People Don’t Do

What do you think of when you hear that someone is “smart?” You probably conjure up an image of an intelligent person. But being “smart” is so much more than being able to answer trivia questions and scoring highly on tests. Smart people are also compassionate, imaginative, humble, and appreciative. They view themselves as a small piece of a vast world, and they know that they have the ability to do great things.

And smart people definitely do not do these 10 things.

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They don’t let past stumbles dictate their present state.

Smart people know that failure is an essential part of growth. Too many people allow past events to stop them from achieving greatness, but not smart people. They put the past behind them, because they know what’s done is done. They look at stumbles as opportunities to grow and get better.

They don’t focus on the negative.

Smart people know that they are in control of their thoughts. And they choose to focus those thoughts on the positive. Smart people believe wholeheartedly that what the mind can conceive, it can also achieve. They know that life becomes easier and more enjoyable when they harness their ability to dream, wonder, create, build, transform, and love.

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They don’t run from their problems.

We all have problems (even Jay-Z has 99 of them). Whether it’s our jobs, money, family, health, etc., smart people face these problems head-on. They search for creative solutions to their issues. And when smart people stumble, they get up and keep right on walking. They have the courage to face their fears, and treat every problem as an opportunity to improve.

They don’t worry about what other people think about them.

Smart people don’t let the negative opinions of others deter them from living a life filled with happiness and purpose. The world has no shortage of doubters, haters, and cynics. But smart people brush the naysayers aside. They surround themselves with other smart people who share their values and passions.

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They don’t waste time.

Author Doug Larsen had this to say about time: “For disappearing acts, it’s hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work.” Smart people make the most of their time. They form productive habits that allow them to work smarter, not harder. They don’t waste their time on meaningless tasks. And they also recognize the need to balance purposeful work with mental decompression.

They don’t expect instant gratification.

Smart people understand that good things come to those who wait. We live in a society of instant gratification. In other words, we expect everything to happen quickly and easily. Most people aren’t willing to bust their tail and put in some good old fashioned hard work. Smart people, on the other hand, don’t forget that there is something greater than getting things handed to them on a silver platter—the satisfaction that comes from the every day journey of working toward something they care about.

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They don’t focus on things that are out of their control.

We encounter things on a daily basis that we can’t control. Traffic, rude people, bad breaks, and dismay. But smart people take these things in stride. They focus on what they can control, which is how they respond to unfortunate circumstances. They know that calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom, and they make the most of that gift.

They don’t spend time with people who bring them down.

Smart people surround themselves with other smart people. They make time for family, friends, and acquaintances who share their values and appreciation for life. But they also recognize that they need to limit the time they spend with negative people. So they choose to spend most of their time with positive, intelligent, uplifting people.

They don’t display arrogance.

You’ll never hear a smart person tell you they’re smart. That’s because smart people are also humble. They take pride in their humility. They don’t boast about themselves and their accolades.

They don’t go a day without giving thanks.

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do if you want to be “smart.” Smart people know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They believe in the power of the greater good and know that a simple selfless act as small as a smile to a random stranger may just change someone’s life‒and their own.

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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