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The 10 Biggest Blunders That Keep You Away From Success

The 10 Biggest Blunders That Keep You Away From Success

Success. What is it and why is it that some people seem to be blessed with success all the time and others just aren’t?

It’s not magic. There are simple traps that many of us fall into that hold success just out of reach.

First of all, let’s define the word “Success”. According to Miriam Webster online there are two very different definitions of “Success”. Here they are.

Success:

“the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame”

“the correct or desired result of an attempt”

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If you want wealth, respect, or fame, the first one is for you. If you have a particular aim or goal in mind, definition number two applies.

In either case, success can be achieved by anyone, but you must be cautious, as there are some very real traps that can keep you from achieving your goals and success. Here are the main ones:

1. Ignorance

It sounds simple enough but you would be surprised at how many people are rock-headedly ignorant and think they know it all! Thinking you know it all already is a sure way to keep from learning anything about what you need to know to be successful. The people who are the most successful in their chosen fields have decided that they needed to learn everything they could about their field, and they never would have done so if they had already thought they knew it all.

I have seen people who are stone cold failures and still will not listen to anyone who tries to help them learn something. It is sad really because their situation will never change until they decide that there is something to learn, and then set about trying to learn it.

2. Too much useless or false information

This is a big problem because the question arises: “How do you know if information is true or not?” There is soooo much false information out there, so it can be difficult‒if not impossible‒to tell which information is true.

Well, I am here to give you a valuable piece of information and it is this: if you use the information as recommended and it works, it is true. If not, you either did not use It correctly or it is wrong. Try it out and see if it works. Then you’ll know.

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Another way of deciding whether information will be useful is to look at the source of the information. Is it credible? Has the person who is giving you the information had measurable success with it? These are simple quick and easy tests you can run through to see if information is valuable.

For example, imagine that a person is trying to sell a learning method. If they have a lot of successful students who can learn and apply the information and then become successful with it, you can bet that the claims they are making are true.

3. Being superficial

Whether you are studying for your field or working in your field, put your heart and soul into it. While learning, learn everything you can. While working, do everything you can. Find out about all the inner workings of the various aspects of your job. Be very curious and ask yourself why things are the way they are.

Remember, your work should be something you are passionate about. If you are not, your chances of success are limited. The passionate people are the ones who draw others to them and take the time and expend the effort necessary to get ahead. The absolute worst thing you can do is work just for a paycheck.

4. Taking shortcuts

This is similar to my last point except that even passionate people can be tempted to take shortcuts. Remember! If there is not enough time to do it right, there is even less time to do it over! Sit down and do the job properly. This is true with every job in life. Put your attention on it, send the distractions on their way and get it done right.

5. Listening to naysayers

You know those annoying people who come to you saying, “It can’t be done.” or, “Its been done before.” or, “What makes you think you can do it when so many others have failed?”

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These people are simply trying to stop you for reasons that they are not saying. Perhaps you being successful when they have failed makes them wrong in some fashion. Perhaps they are just jealous. Perhaps they have been listening to too many other naysayers. In any case, this has nothing to do with you. Their failures are their failures and have nothing to do with your success.

6. Settling for “Plan B”

Plan B is the plan that you were told you should have to “fall back on,” especially if you have chosen a career in the arts. I don’t know where this idiocy came from because when you look at it, there is art all around you. There are movies and films and music everywhere. It stands to reason that someone somewhere is paying for it.

If you have a passion for something other than a “real job” go for it! Find those who are successful and find out what they did to be successful, and then do that! It really is that simple. There are steps to success in any field and most people who are successful in their fields are willing to help an enthusiastic person find their way. Find out the steps that lead to success and take them.

7. Not keeping your focus.

It is so easy to get distracted in this day and age. Everywhere people and various media outlets are desperately trying to get your attention. A lot of what they are pumping out is really interesting too!

More than ever we have to manage our distractions and be ruthless about not allowing them to take over. Schedule your time for the things you know are distracting but do not lead to your goal. You don’t have to give up your favorite distractions but you do need to manage them and keep them from eating all your time and energy.

8. Failing to write out the steps you need to take daily to move forward toward your goal.

This is so important, and it ties in nicely with my last point. Distractions can easily creep in when you don’t have a clear idea of what you need to actually do to move forward.

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In my line of work, I have so many projects and I love taking on more. If I don’t write down a “battle plan” of the things I need to get accomplished every day, I can pretty much call that day wasted. I will get up and fog around the house doing nothing of value until I realize that it is time for my afternoon appointments.

If I have a battle plan or a “To Do” list, not only do I get more done, but I can look at it at the end of the day and see how productive I was. This aids morale because you are as happy as you are productive in life. When you see that you have gotten a lot done, you are a lot more motivated to do more.

9. Underestimating the amount of effort required to achieve your goal.

It is sometimes very difficult to know how much effort you need to expend to really get moving on a path toward success. In that case, it is safer to overestimate than underestimate. Assume that you will be working your buns off. If that large of an effort is not required, it will be a pleasant surprise. If it is, you will be ready.

Any goal that you are going after will require effort and in most cases, lots of it. If you are ready for it and willing to expend your effort smartly, you will succeed.

10. Thinking that someone else’s definition of success will work for you.

At the beginning of my post, I gave you two definitions of “Success,” but there is another definition that is infinitely more important‒your own, personal definition of success. Sit down and write it out exactly. What does success mean to you? Without a clear idea of what you are going after you will not be able to reach it. If you know exactly what you want, you will know with each and every action you take whether or not it is taking you closer to your goal.

Once you do that, look at the traps and make sure you are not falling into them. They can be insidious, meaning they can sneak up on you. Be aware and keep a copy of this article in hand and refer to it every so often.

Write me and let me know how it is going. You can put your note or questions in the comments section and I will respond.

Good luck!

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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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