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7 Questions You Should Never Ask Yourself And What You Should Ask Instead To Be Successful In Life

7 Questions You Should Never Ask Yourself And What You Should Ask Instead To Be Successful In Life

In our moments of weakness, we’ve all felt the effects of questioning our capabilities. We’ve questioned whether we have what it takes, questioned whether or not we are fully committed, and questioned whether we were cut out to handle things others seem to do so easily. Worst of all, we’ve even questioned whether we’ll ever be successful in life.

The truth? We do have what it takes. We can be committed, and WE ARE cut out to handle things, just like everybody else. We just need to ask ourselves the right questions–the kind that puts our focus in the right places and reminds us that we are capable.

So let’s stop using the following seven questions, and let’s replace them with good ones, shall we?

1. How can I get others to like me?

Most of us have asked this question since elementary school, so it’s no wonder that some of us still think this way.

Here’s the thing with this question, it’s okay to do things slightly differently if it means smoother interactions with others. But as soon as you start adopting interests, changing the way you dress, or changing your values, it’s a problem.

All of us want success, but it has to be personal, and it has to be our own version of success. So stop pretending and just be yourself when meeting others. Does it really count if you act like different person? You can’t really say it’s you, can you? That’d just be fraudulent.

You need to switch gears. You need to attract others who like you for you are.

Better question–Where and how can I improve my interests?

This question is great on two levels.

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  1. It’s good for self-development purposes
  2. It surrounds you with like-minded people, which is a perfect setting for building friendships

Focusing on getting people to like you is a bad strategy, but attracting others while you do something you love is smart; hobby clubs, mastermind groups, dog parks, and anywhere people meet up are great for this.

It moves you away from the “I need to impress others somehow” mentality to the “I love what I’m doing and if others are interested they can join in” one. That is the mindset of someone who wants to be successful in life.

2. What if I look stupid, what will others think of me then?

As understandable as this question is, it’s only purpose is to hold you back. You will never amount to anything if you ask yourself this kind of question.

Let’s say you’re starting a blog. You say it’s a longterm project and that it has potential to make some money. You tell your friends and they’re like “A blog? Blogs don’t make money! Who told you that silly thing?” A statement like that is pretty discouraging, right? It makes you feel insecure and even a little stupid for considering it.

But think about this: what if they said that your clothes are stupid? Should you buy a new wardrobe? Perhaps they said your family is weird; should you avoid them? No! Of course not. This is how you should treat others when it comes to any goals you want to pursue as well.

Trust me, over time you’ll develop a thick skin and be able to ignore what others think of you, and it all starts with asking the right question.

Better question–Will I regret not doing this in the future?

You want to know what people really regret in life? It’s not getting drunk and vomiting all over the place (embarrassing, yes, but not regretful), and it’s not picking your nose without realizing people are watching.

It’s not telling that girl you like her. It’s not starting up that business idea you had when you were younger. It’s not pursuing your dream job and only focusing on the “safe” career path instead. These are the things you’ll look back on when you’re on your deathbed and cause a deep, intense feeling of regret.

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You’ll regret how stupid it was of you to avoid “looking stupid.” I can actually answer that “Better Question” for you–yes, if you have to ask then you WILL regret not doing it now, so get to it!

3. What if it’s too hard and I fail?

There’s no getting around this possibility. You might fail. You might fall down head first and feel really dumb afterwards.

But does that make you a “failure?” Does messing up on the way to your goal make you a legit failure? What about messing up 10 times? 100 times? That’d definitely make you a failure, right?

If so, then let me introduce you to some “failures.” Thomas Edison, the man who created the light bulb, failed over a thousand times before having any success. Colonel Sander’s also failed over a thousand times before finding a buyer for his fried chicken recipe.

Both failed over a thousand times, yet they aren’t failures, are they? They were actually very successful in life.

Better Question–What does failure mean REALLY? Is it so bad?

Failure isn’t really failure unless you’ve given up. In fact, you should expect to mess up when pursuing goals. If you haven’t messed up then you probably haven’t really done anything yet. Here’s what the path of success looks like:

  • Idea
  • Progress
  • Progress
  • Mistake
  • Reassess
  • Progress
  • Progress
  • Mistake
  • Reassess…

And so on. Mistakes allow refinement, they sharpen your approach and improve you. These kinds of lessons really stick with you since nobody likes to make mistakes, so learn to embrace your failures and let them guide you.

4. When will I succeed? When will I be successful in life?

We all have goals, things we want to accomplish. And naturally, we all want to have those things now. Lose 20 pounds, start a business, learn to play guitar–there’s lots of things we want done.

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But sometimes we focus too much on the end result. This may lead to fantasizing, giving us a false sense of satisfaction. It could also cause us to shrink away from the challenge of it, knowing it could be long and tough to do.

Either way, you get bad outcomes.

Better question–What small thing can I do today to move forward?

This question puts you in the right frame of mind. Focusing on the steps that make your goals reality is the framework for success. Your goals will have their day, but it’s what you do today that determines what day that is.

So, what can you do today? What can you do right now? Are you writing a novel? Write down one sentence. Yup, a single sentence counts if done daily. Want to get in shape? Do a single pushup. It’s all about consistency, and small tasks are the kings of consistency.

5. What if I can’t meet everybody’s expectations?

Here’s the thing, everybody has different expectations about you. No matter what you do, you’ll never satisfy everyone. So what’s the point in even thinking about this? It’s an impossible question to answer.

Better question–What behaviors should I expect from myself?

The only person you should expect anything from is yourself. Your expectations are the only ones that matter. After all, you know better than others what kind of person you want to be. Do you expect patience? Commitment? Friendliness? What? You have to choose what you expect from yourself–that’s the only way it’ll truly matter.

6. Who and what kind of person am I?

This is the kind of question you should avoid. Why? It opens the door for others to tell you what kind of person you are. Eventually you’ll just become a conglomerate of other peoples perceptions.

Better question–Who do I choose to be?

Now this is good question. It puts the power in your hands, reminding you that your actions determine who you are, not what others say. Do you want to be happy? Then do things that make you happy. Do you want to be a person who values fitness? Go exercise.

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It’s really as simple as that. Choose who want to be and perform the actions associated with that identity. Writers write, jogger jog, and you are who you choose to be.

7. Why me? Why am I in this situation?

Why oh why, indeed. Listen, it sucks that you’re in some kind of “situation.” But at some point, we all are. We all experience awful things, but we don’t have to remain a victim to our circumstances.

There is something you can do about it. I don’t know what, but the opportunity is there for you, and you won’t see it if you aren’t asking the right questions.

Better question–What actions will get me out of here?

This question exudes confidence and perseverance. It’s the kind of question that reminds us that we are in control, not circumstance. Maybe you can’t do something big, but you can (and will) do something small, even it’ll take some time.

You’re always in control of something, you just need to grasp at it to be successful in life.

Over to You

What are your personal experiences with these questions? Were you able to overcome them? How so?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your real life experiences on the subject.

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Ericson Ay Mires

Ericson is a writer who shares about work and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 15, 2019

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

This is an article I didn’t want to write. Even if it appears that way on the surface, few things are black and white. Between the two colors is a world of gray. Notwithstanding the bosses who behave criminally, some of the people who carry the “bad boss” label have possibly been, or have the capacity to become, a “good boss.”

This is an article I didn’t want to write because I understand that depending on whom you ask, many of us could be labeled either a good or bad boss.

Perhaps another reason I didn’t want to write this article is because context matters. Context for the organization and context for the individual. What is happening in the organization? What is the culture? Is the “boss” in a position for which the individual is equipped to do the job? Is the person in a terrible place in life? The office culture, the relationship a team member has with a boss or board and the leader’s personal life can all influence how the person shows up and leads and how others perceive the individual.

But since I am writing this article, I will share a few signs that bosses are bad and in need of a timeout.

1. Bad Bosses Don’t Know and Haven’t Healed Their Inner Child

If you plan to lead people – well, if you plan to effectively lead yourself – you must get reacquainted with your inner child. Just because you are in young adulthood, middle age or the golden years doesn’t mean your inner child matches your chronological age. If you experienced trauma as a child, your inner child may be stuck at the point or age of that trauma. While you walk around in a woman’s size 10 shoe, your behavior may showcase an inner child who is much younger.

In a June 7, 2008, Psychology Today article, Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D., observed,[1]

“The fact is that the majority of so-called adults are not truly adults at all. We all get older … But, psychologically speaking, this is not adulthood. True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one’s own inner child. For most adults, this never happens. Instead, their inner child has been denied, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected. We are told by society to ‘grow up,’ putting childish things aside. To become adults, we’ve been taught that our inner child—representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness—must be stifled, quarantined or even killed. The inner child comprises and potentiates these positive qualities. But it also holds our accumulated childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers.”

Sometimes the key that your inner child needs tending to is conflict with someone else’s inner child.

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Good bosses are aware of the ups and downs of their childhood, have worked or are working to heal their inner child and are aware of their triggers. Good managers use this awareness to manage themselves, and their interactions with others. Bad bosses are oblivious to how their inner child impacts not only their life but the lives of others.

2. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Accept Feedback

Bad bosses are not intentional about creating an environment where their peers and colleagues can share feedback about their leadership. They don’t solicit feedback. Given the power dynamic that managers, CEOs and others in leadership yield, they must go out of their way to solicit feedback, and they must do so repeatedly.

Before being completely honest, most team members will test the waters and share low-stakes information to get a sense for how their boss will respond. If the boss is angry or retaliatory, team members are less likely to risk being candid in the future.

So being unable to accept feedback takes on two forms: failing to proactively and repeatedly ask for feedback and reacting poorly when feedback is shared.

3. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling to Give Timely Feedback

The flip side of accepting feedback is giving feedback. Both require courage. It takes courage to open yourself up and accept feedback on ways that you need to grow. Similarly, it takes courage to share honest feedback about a team member’s or colleague’s performance or behavior.

Since not everyone is open to accepting feedback, whether they’re a manager or not, having an honest conversation about areas a team member or colleague has missed the mark, is not always easy. Still, good bosses will find a way to share feedback, and they’ll do so in a timely fashion.

Withholding feedback and sharing it months after a situation has unfolded or in a snowball fashion is unhelpful to the employees. One of the ways we grow as leaders is through feedback. When people have the courage to tell us the truth, that information allows us to progress.

4. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Acknowledge Their Mistakes

Owning their mistakes is like a disease to bad bosses; they do not want it. Instead of being risk averse, they are accountability averse. The problem is that they can only gloss over their weaknesses or failures for so long; the people around are able to see their flaws and weaknesses, and bad bosses pretending they don’t exist is not helpful. It is infuriating.

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However, bad bosses are masterful at reassigning blame. They are unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for mistakes — small or large. But career expert Amanda Augustine told CNBC “Make It” in May 2017, that “good managers also admit their mistakes.”[2] They don’t pass the blame or pretend they didn’t make a mistake. They own it.

5. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling or Incapable of Being Vulnerable

Vulnerability is an underrated leadership skill. But well-placed and well-thought out vulnerability enables employees to see their leaders’ humanity, and it creates a way for leaders to bond with their teams.

Bad bosses may talk about vulnerability, but they don’t practice it in their own lives, particularly in the workplace.

6. Privately, Bad Bosses Do Not Live Up to the Organization’s Stated Values

Bad bosses may publicly spout the values of the organization they work for, but privately they either don’t believe or don’t embody those values.

If they work for an environmental group, they may not practice sustainability in their private lives. Their words and actions are incongruent.

7. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Inspire Others

When bad bosses are unable or unwilling to take the time to inspire others, they lead through fear or command. Neither are helpful.

A culture dominated by fear will stifle creativity and risk taking that can lead to innovation. An autocratic management style will have a similar effect in that team, members will not feel they have the space to step outside of the box they have been placed in.

A good boss is someone who takes time to share the big picture and time to inspire their teams to want to be a part of it.

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8. Bad Bosses Are Disinterested in How Their Behavior Impacts Others

They are narcissistic and focused on self-preservation. In “19 Traits of a Bad Boss,” Kevin Sheridan said,[3]

“Terrible bosses are endlessly self-centered. Everything is about them and not the people they manage or what is going on in their employees’ personal lives. It is never about the team, but rather all about how good they look. Conversely, great bosses lead with integrity, honesty, care, and authenticity.”

Rather than seeing their team’s talents and seeing people’s full humanity, bad bosses believe their team exists to serve them. Families, personal life and priorities be damned. Bona fide bad bosses believe that their comfort should be prioritized over their team’s needs and desires.

9. Bad Bosses Have Likely Received Negative Feedback

Bad bosses have likely been told that they are poor supervisors. They have likely been told time and time again that their behavior is harmful to the people around them.

Perhaps they do not know how to change or are unwilling to change. But bad bosses certainly have received clues, insights and direct feedback that their management style and behavior are harmful to others.

Even when someone hasn’t explicitly said, “Your behavior is harmful to me and others,” the absence of feedback indicates a problem. It can mean that the leader’s team doesn’t feel safe enough to share feedback, that people do not believe the leader will act on what is shared, or that people have determine the best strategy is to avoid the boss as much as possible.

10. Bad Bosses Are Perfectionists

Bad bosses are driven by an internal urge to be perfect. Perfectionists don’t just want to be perfect; they want everyone around them to be perfect as well. This is a standard that neither they nor their team can live up to.

Since perfection is illusive, they spend their time chasing their shadow and being frustrated that they cannot catch it. They are unable to enjoy the journey and often block others from doing so as well. They let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” Rather than embracing a growth mindset that desires to learn and improved, they are compulsive and toxic.

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If you are like me and you see yourself in parts of this list, do not despair. A bad boss can change. The key is seeking honest feedback and being willing to work through that feedback and your triggers with a therapist or coach.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of your age and the mistakes you have made, you can change and become a healthier leader whom others respect and appreciate.

Conversely, if you are employed by a bad boss, do everything in your power to take care of yourself. Understand that your boss’s behavior, even if directed at you, is not about you. Your boss’s reactions, if and when you make a mistake, is a reflection on that individual, not you.

To survive the work environment, think about the lesson you are meant to learn. You can do this with a trusted therapist or capable coach. However, if you deem the work environment to be toxic and harmful to your health, seek employment elsewhere.

In the end, this is an article I did not want to write, but I’m happy I did.

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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