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10 Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way and Achieve the Success You Deserve

I t may be easy to cite someone we consider to be successful, but it’s not always as easy to figure out exactly how that person became successful in the first place. Most of the time, success or failure is staring us in the mirror. If we fall into bad habits, including filling our heads with negative thoughts, we may find ways to self-sabotage our own endeavors that can lead to our own undoing.

Inspired by an article written by Larry Kim of Inc., being aware of your pitfalls is the first step in overcoming them. If you have an important goal you’d like to achieve, it’s best to avoid doing these ten things:

 

1. Comparing yourself to others

There are over seven billion people in the world. You’ll be better than some, just as easily as some will be better than you. If you are judging your value solely on how you stack up against others, you will be fighting a battle you likely won’t win. There are very few people who are the absolute best in the world at what they do, and the odds are stacked against you that you are one of those people.

If you are judging your value solely on how you stack up against others, you will be fighting a battle you likely won’t win.

The key isn’t necessarily to be the best; the goal should be to do the best you possibly can and to be better than you were yesterday. If your progress is consistently moving forward, chances are you will be successful.

2. Being afraid to fail (excessive risk mitigation)

I had a friend who wanted to open a brewery. He was an amazing brewer who made better beers than most commercial operations. He had tons of experience on the amateur level and was well schooled, graduating from the esteemed Siebel Brewing Academy. He had every tool needed to be a successful brewery business owner, except one. He was a professional risk mitigator.

Instead of moving his project forward, he’d continuously review his business plan, tweaking and tinkering, always trying to mitigate risk. While due diligence is important, there is such thing as too much thinking. In trying to mitigate risk, he mitigated his entire brewery concept because it never opened. So consumed with what could go wrong, the project never got off the ground. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself and go for it.

3. Becoming complacent

When you feel like you’ve reached a place where you just can’t improve any more and have nothing further to learn, an alarm should sound, flashing lights should go off and a mechanical punching bag should activate. The world is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn. While there’s nothing wrong with being confident in one’s abilities, complacency is the place where the world passes you by.

4. Losing faith in yourself and your abilities

Having doubts is a normal part of life and entirely natural. Doubts can be the fuel we need to double down on our efforts to accomplish a goal. However, continuously second-guessing yourself can be unhealthy and can retard forward progress on goals, if not sabotage them altogether.

“It is human nature to feel confident about yourself one moment, and doubt yourself the next. Some of that has to do with life experiences while other times it can be caused by a shift in chemicals within the brain. Regardless of the cause, maintaining a steadfast belief in yourself and your abilities is what will power you through, day in and day out.”

5. Surrounding yourself with negative people

The reggae artist Lloyd Brown shares wisdom in his song Know Yourself when he says “You need to fly with eagles and no walk with chickens.” It’s much harder to aspire to greatness when you hang out with mediocrity or less.

In no way is this referencing someone’s socioeconomic status. The negative in the term “negative people” refers to people who do very little to better their own lives while spending time denigrating others for attempting to better theirs.

Energy exists in the world. The more you surround yourself with positive energy, including positive people, the more energized you’ll feel. You are much more likely to achieve greatness if you are operating out of a positive energy state more often than not.

6. Thinking you’re not good enough; having “perfectionist” theory

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with trying to improve. If you are passionate about something, your goal may be to try to become the best you can possibly be. Sometimes being good, or even excellent, needs to be good enough. If you don’t understand this, you may forget to enjoy the ride.

It doesn’t matter what you do or the scale of that particular endeavor. Maybe you make donuts for a living or maybe you are a garbage collector. Perhaps you’re a major league ballplayer or a fiction writer. Regardless of the endeavor, the key is to do your best, but not get hung up on trying to be perfect.

Even the greatest in the world have off days. The seemingly unhittable pitcher Nolan Ryan, author of seven no-hitters, found a way to lose 292 games during his career. I have yet to find anyone that would consider Ryan to be anything close to a failure.

7. Basing success solely on finances

When do you know that you have “made it?” How do you judge your own success? While it’s understandable that entrepreneurs will often judge their success or failure by their bottom line, there are so many other factors that go into whether or not a person or a business is truly successful.

Money generated is one factor, but other factors include: how many jobs has your company created for others? How much revenue has your company generated for your community? Have you created a product that has made the lives of people in your neighborhood better? Certainly, money can be one area where one judges success, but it should never be the sole consideration.

8. Wasting time on regrets

Maybe we tried something and failed. Maybe we failed to try something we should have. Whatever the case; it’s time to move on. Living life in the past, dwelling on things that went wrong, or didn’t happen at all, is neither productive nor inspiring.

Living life in the past, dwelling on things that went wrong, or didn’t happen at all, is neither productive nor inspiring.

Everyone gets five minutes to feel sorry for themselves. Then it’s time to get off the mat, believe in yourself again and start making forward progress.

9. Using words that lack action

On their 1983 blockbuster album Pyromania, Def Leppard declared, “Give me action, not words.” A perfect theme for an album that is the soundtrack for the 80s big hair generation, it also applies to life in the everyday world. What good is talking about doing something if you don’t actually do it?

It’s great to visualize an idea, and part of that visualization often includes verbalizing your ideas. Verbalizing your intentions to do something brings that idea to life. However, ideas without action behind them are meaningless. Picture your idea in your mind, verbalize it, then begin immediately to put that idea into action.

Picture your idea in your mind, verbalize it, then begin immediately to put that idea into action.

10. Envying success of others

There is nothing wrong with admiring people who have achieved success. In fact, having role models can be a great way to help you visualize what your ideal situation looks like.

For example, as a musician and a bit of an aspiring entrepreneur, I completely admire Sammy Hagar. Not only is he a fantastic songwriter and performer, he’s capitalized on his celebrity by creating multiple, highly successful brands, including his Cabo Wabo Tequila and his Sammy’s Beach Bar restaurant locations.

The key is to admire, and not to envy, those who have found success. I view Hagar as an inspiration who earned what he has by putting every ounce of passion into his craft. Now he gets to bask in the rewards of all his hard work. Rather than waste a moment being envious, I envision myself being similarly successful, and maybe one day celebrating that success over some of that Cabo Wabo with the man himself.

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5 Characteristics of Great Leaders

T  he hope of every employee is to work for a leader they like and respect. While each person may have their own definition of what constitutes a “great leader,” we can agree there are certain traits that appeal to the masses.

If you are a leader and you possess these five traits, you are probably quite successful. If you don’t think these traits describe your leadership style, working on one or more of these areas would be a great place to start in order to build a better rapport with your teams.

Humility

We may often think a successful leader needs to be a commanding or charismatic presence, yet often it’s exactly the opposite type of leader that appeals more so to a workforce. A leader who shows humility steps out of the spotlight and lets that light shine upon the team. While having a fiery or attention-grabbing personality may be great for a leader doing a public speaking engagement, that approach can wear thin with workers on a day-to-day basis.

We may often think a successful leader needs to be a commanding or charismatic presence, yet often it’s exactly the opposite type of leader that appeals more so to a workforce.

Sue Shellenbarger of The Wall Street Journal said, “Humility is a core quality of leaders who inspire close teamwork, rapid learning and high performance in their teams, according to several studies in the past three years. Humble people tend to be aware of their own weaknesses, eager to improve themselves, appreciative of others’ strengths and focused on goals beyond their own self-interest.”

She ascertains that humility leads to lower turnover and absenteeism, because these leaders tend to let their teams get the majority of the attention and the accolades, making them feel more engaged.

Conviction

Author Nishant Bhajaria wrote an article entitled, Four Mistakes That Made Me a Better Manager. In this article, Bhajaria cites four key attributes that any leader needs to have to empower them for success: conviction, courage, good listening skills and the ability to mentor.

“Believing in the mission is at the foundation of everything a manager does. All plans and strategies are built from that mission. You can’t build a sound structure without a solid foundation, and it works exactly the same way in business. As the leader, you are responsible not only for yourself, but for every member of your team. You have to believe in them to be able to support them in times of need. The bottom line is simple: employees want to follow a leader they believe in and a leader in whom they trust.”

Courage

Put more than one person in a room and disagreements are bound to occur. When there is a disagreement, a great leader needs to be able to stand their ground believing in their position, while still being receptive to the opposition’s point of view. Conversely, they have to understand that there are occasions when their beliefs may not be best for the organization and they must be willing to be flexible. The key is to win others over through a sound and calm fact-base case rather than by becoming emotional or argumentative.

Part of having courage is trusting your people to do the job without a lot of interference.

Part of having courage is trusting your people to do the job without a lot of interference. Constantly being involved with minutiae can become more of a distraction than a help, and it impedes an employee from wanting to take chances and expand their comfort zone. An employee that is constantly challenged becomes tentative, and eventually, complacent. A great leader will provide instruction and direction, then trust that the employee is capable enough of carrying out the duties out in a meaningful way.

Great listener

A great leader certainly needs to be a support system for the team, but the leader must also let the workers grow. With growth comes the occasional failure, which is perfectly acceptable since it leads to expanding comfort zones and learning new skills.

Workers typically want to know that when they have a need or a concern, their manager will be there to listen to them and lend support, if needed. Sometimes, just letting an employee verbally brainstorm or even vent is all that is needed. Being a good listener can be as powerful, if not more powerful, than a “fix it” manager who always feels the need to try to fix problems that may not actually exist.

Mentoring

Very few people are “born leaders.” Most leaders need to learn their skills somewhere and from someone. Virtually every great leader can immediately recall someone who helped them over the years, especially when they needed help the most. Even if the mentor’s involvement seemed insignificant at the time, it can often leave a long-lasting positive impact on the person who was helped.

A great manager understands that the more they listen, the more they can learn, and let’s the employees do the majority of the talking.

Virtually every great leader can immediately recall someone who helped them over the years, especially when they needed help the most.

Mentoring can be done in a structured, formal capacity or very casually. Mentoring is simply helping others get to where they want to go. It can be a full-fledged training program or a properly timed pep talk.

When I was a young sales executive, I didn’t have an official mentor or a predesigned career path to get into management. I did, however, have a high-ranking division leader that I went to when I needed words of wisdom. That leader came through every time, no matter how seemingly insignificant the issue. While he may not have even realized he was being a mentor at the time, I credit him with a key role in my eventual move into sales management because of his words of wisdom and the things I learned from him, including the example he set as a leader.

Conclusion

There are many people who hold positions of authority, but there is a shortage of great leaders. When I think back to the leaders who made the greatest positive impact in my life, there were a few consistencies. These were the leaders that respected me as a person and a worker, supported me in good times and bad, and gave me the space to do what I did best – produce results.

At times, a week could go by without more than casual conversation with these great managers. This was perfectly ok with me because I knew what I needed to do and the manager knew I was getting the work done at a high level. Micromanaging simply wasn’t necessary. But when I needed the manager, they made themselves available. The mutual respect led to a great working relationship and the results spoke for themselves.

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How To Work Smarter, Not Harder

P ersonally, I feel there is nothing natural about waking up before the sun rises. In fact, I’d call it lunacy. Since the word lunacy derives from the term lunaticus meaning “of the moon” or “moonstruck,” it really does fit. When the moon is out, the only thing I want to accomplish is catching up on my sleep.

Now, by no means does that indicate a slacker mentality. When I do wake up, I’m the kind of person that gets going and doesn’t stop until the moon is back up high in the sky. I often refer to myself as being like an old car; it might take a moment for the car to warm up and perform optimally, but when it does, get out of the way because that old heavy metal thunder will be barreling down the road with a purpose.

2 simple rules of life

I’ve found that life is really quite simple. There’s a few basic rules I try to follow and, when I do, I find things work out quite well. The first rule is that there is no answer for lack of sleep. You can drink all the coffee, tea, Red Bull, Monster or heart-racing beverage of choice and it doesn’t matter. For every energy peak, there is an equally intensive crash to follow. For me personally, it’s not worth the ups and downs.

Keep it simple: get enough sleep and do things that give you energy. If you can accomplish this, life improves.

Another rule I follow is to try to do things that energize me. Every single thing you do, every interaction you have and every moment of your life is spent either being energized or having your energy zapped. I’ve found that if you can at least be energized 51% of your day, that day will be considered a success. Think about how you feel on those days where your energy gets zapped; do you feel lifeless, unmotivated and maybe a little crabby too?

People frequently talk about doing what you love and having a career that provides meaning, but that all ties back to either being energized or energy drained. Keep it simple: get enough sleep and do things that give you energy. If you can accomplish this, life improves.

What’s the rush?

Sadly, today’s workplace encourages overworking employees. It’s seen by many as a badge of honor if you can outwork your peers, even if the end result is your mental and physical health. Instead of protecting employees against burnout, some companies push workers to the limit, and then replace them with reinforcements that they treat in the same manner.

Why not just work at a reasonable pace? Get the work done and do it well. Work shouldn’t be a competition and, last time I checked, quality work is still a valued commodity.

Get the work done and do it well. Work shouldn’t be a competition and, last time I checked, quality work is still a valued commodity.

Modeling success

Richard Branson is someone I admire a great deal. Whether it’s his success, his carefree spirit or willingness to expand his comfort zone daily, Branson is an inspiration in many ways. I find it interesting that Richard Branson does not believe in spending time in an office. In his book, Finding My Virginity, he talks about his preference to work from home where he finds he is much more productive.

He talks about waking up, jumping in his hammock, catching up on correspondences and communicating with key business contacts until midday. At that point, he typically breaks to enjoy kite surfing in the waters of his British Virgin Islands home. He doesn’t time his midday break, rather preferring to let the ebb and flow of the day dictate how long he decides to step away from work.

Branson claims that when he returns to work, he is recharged and ready to go. Despite exerting energy to kite surf, he has re-energized both his body and his mind, making himself ready for the second half of his day.

It’s hard to argue with the success of Richard Branson, and it certainly appears his daily approach seems to be working. While kitesurfing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I can imagine the benefits of a good midday hike, run or meditation could work wonders for someone’s energy levels.

The value of a proper night’s sleep

According to an article written by startup founder Anna Auerbach, recent research at Hult International Business School shows how sleep deprivation affects job performance. She says, “Many survey respondents reported poorer workplace performance due to tiredness, with over half admitting to struggling to stay focused in meetings, taking longer to complete tasks, and finding it challenging to generate new ideas. Along with a lack of focus and diminished creative capacities, participants also indicated a reduced motivation to learn and be less able to manage competing demands.”

Many survey respondents reported poorer workplace performance due to tiredness, with over half admitting to struggling to stay focused in meetings, taking longer to complete tasks, and finding it challenging to generate new ideas.

In Arianna Huffington’s book entitled Sleep Revolution Manifesto, she proclaims, “Sleep is a fundamental and non-negotiable human need.” And, “Exhaustion is a sign of chaos, not a badge of honor.” So why do we continue to push ourselves beyond reasonable limits? What are we trying to prove and who do we feel we need to impress?

Commutes

traffic jamLet’s talk about commutes. How productive can one truly be behind the wheel of a car? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute in the United States is 25.4 minutes. Of course, in larger cities with more traffic, that number is typically higher.

In our metro area of Phoenix, the average commute time is 25.9 minutes. However, according to employment agency Robert Half, Phoenix also has the dubious distinction of being ranked at the 4th most stressful commute in the country, behind Los Angeles, Miami and Austin, just ahead of San Francisco. With many people believing 101 is the speed limit and not the interstate number, who am I to disagree?

 

Imagine what could happen if you trade in that 30-60 minute stressful daily drive into productive time spent working when you are ready to perform at a high level.

Your work would improve, your stress would reduce and you could exchange that commute time for an extended midday break to recharge.

Summing it up

The world we live in doesn’t always revolve around a clock, nor should it. There is no defined proof that a person works better during specific business hours. So why do we continue to confine people to these hours? The key is to make work hours flexible in order to accommodate life and livelihood. Being happy and energized at least 51% of the time will improve the chances of increased productivity and a better overall state-of-mind.

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Mentoring Using DISC

L eading a successful team can be compared to a directing a musical performance, such as a classical orchestra or choral concert. Individuals who bear little resemblance to each other often need to learn how to harmonize and respect the differences they bring to the team. Their diversity in style and substance, when properly harmonized, makes beautiful music.

It is rather easy for a conductor to identify who plays what instrument. It is no less important for managers to know the behavioral or work styles of the individuals they manage and how they can best contribute to the organization.

Behavioral styles, such as DISC, can tell a lot about how a person will typically behave a majority of the time. The DISC indicators can be considered predictors of how a peer or colleague might approach a challenge or influence others to their way of thinking.

Being able to adapt to people who possess different behavioral styles is the key to success in both business and in life.

Being able to adapt to people who possess different behavioral styles is the key to success in both business and in life. Since behavioral styles are observable, it’s easy to determine someone’s style and react accordingly.

As someone who specializes in mentoring, I often discuss ways a mentor can best work with a mentoree, even with very different behavioral styles. While the examples below illustrate the mentor/mentoree relationship, these skills can be applied between any two people communicating in any setting.

DISC Defined

DISC is an acronym that stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. The science of DISC explains the “how” a person does what they do, and can be a strong predictor of future behavior.

When someone scores higher in one particular area of DISC compared to the others, they are considered “high” in that particular factor. High-D’s are all about results. High-I’s are about interaction. High-S’s seek stability while the high-C is all about following rules. This basic understanding helps to illustrate how to identify various behavior styles when entering a room with other people.

Working with an opposing behavioral style in a mentoring partnership

Sometimes, you might be paired with someone because of their career trajectory or technical expertise but find that you do not share much else in common. Here are some ideas for working with a partner whose DISC style feels in opposition to your own:

A high-D and a low-D — For the high-D adapting to the low D: Slow down. Drop the intensity. Create a safe learning environment.  If the low D feels calm and comfortable, they are more likely to admit “I don’t know” or “This is where I need help.” Low Ds like lessons to follow and a forum to discuss problem-solving options.

A high-I and low-I — Outwardly, these two styles share very little in common — one is people-oriented and the other is task-oriented. One tends to trust indiscriminately while the other tends to remain guarded and untrusting. The high-I will have to respect the low-I’s low-trust level and will need to seek to build trust gradually. Ask the low-I for their input while planning development activities and for their impressions on how comfortable they are with stretch assignments.

A high-S and a low-S – In this relationship, the calculated decision maker must adjust to a high-risk taker. In other words, someone who prefers a slower pace (high-S) needs to work with someone who moves quickly. The high-S will need to pick up the pace when communicating with the low-S: cover only the high points and strive for directness.

A high-C and a low-C – Because the high C and the low C are both task-oriented, the area of potential conflict lies within the scope of compliance and risk taking. The risk-averse high-C competes with the low-C’s need for independence which can many times cause a considerable amount of tension. The high-C will need to give the low-C honest feedback if they are tackling problems with little regard for the possible ramifications of a quick decision.

Using DISC to design developmental activities

No matter which style each partner brings to the relationship, savvy mentors will look for opportunities to move the mentoring meetings beyond philosophical chats and/or venting sessions. In other words, to maximize learning, mentors should engage the mentoree in a variety of situations and developmental experiences.

To maximize learning, mentors should engage the mentoree in a variety of situations and developmental experiences.

To keep your mentoree engaged, consider their DISC style (both highs and lows) when designing development activities.  For example:

High-D’s, high-C’s or low-I’s – Tend to put tasks before people, so they struggle with interpersonal skills. If the goal is to enhance people skills — ask your mentoree to consider investing one day each month listening to the concerns and needs of his/her employees or peers.  Encourage them to look for opportunities to help someone talk through a project with which they are struggling.

High-I’s or high-S’s — These two behavioral styles have trouble setting clear standards and holding others accountable – particularly people over whom they do not have authority. In this case, perhaps the goal would be to work with your mentoree to create a project management system for following up on outstanding tasks and action items.

Low-S’s or high-D’s —These two styles tend to struggle with maintaining emotional intelligence during difficult times/situations. The ideal developmental activity would be to identify someone for the mentoree to shadow who is going to lead a team through a difficult conversation about a failed project.

Low-D’s, high-S’s or high-C’s — These styles need time to think things through before making a decision or taking a risk. To help build confidence in decision-making and risk-taking, encourage your mentoree to journal about what holds them back from making a decision. At your next mentoring meeting, discuss the pros and cons of the decision and an action plan for moving forward.

DISC as a guide for mentoring meetings

When meeting with a high-D or high-C: Expect these meetings to be brief and to the point.  Be sure to show up on time and prepared to dive into business.

When meeting with a high-I: Provide a friendly and fun environment. Give them plenty of time to talk. Remember they get pretty excited about things – lots of things – so you might need to ground them a little.

When meeting with a high-S: Just like the High-I’s, they need a friendly environment. Don’t rush headlong into business, give them a chance to break the ice and warm up to you. Always give them time to think things through. Be sure to send an agenda ahead of the meeting so they know what topics you would like to discuss.

When meeting with a high-C: Be sure to show up on time and stick to business. Don’t expect the meeting to run a full hour if they run out of things to discuss. Be careful of appearing too lighthearted, casual or showy and be sure to follow through on your promises. Just like the High-S’s, they will appreciate an agenda sent ahead of time.

Conclusion

Whether you are in a mentor/mentoree relationship or simply communicating with a friend or co-worker, understanding and being able to adapt to differing behavioral styles is the key to great communication and success in work and in life.

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In this guide, you’ll get access to the seven most important questions to ask when hiring someone. And yes, they go way beyond a basic job description.

3 Tips For Keeping Employees Engaged Using DISC [Infographic]

B ehavioral assessments, such as DISC, are an excellent tool helping leaders worldwide better understand and connect more effectively with their workforce, raising engagement and productivity.

Dominanace

  1. Be direct and prepared in communications
  2. Motivate them with challenges
  3. Eliminate small talk and get to the point

Influence

  1. Casually ease into conversations; avoid directness
  2. Provide opportunities to work with other people
  3. Create an open workspace where interaction is encouraged

Steadiness

  1. Communicate at a steady pace
  2. Let them ask questions
  3. Avoid asking them to act or react immediately

Compliance

  1. Provide as many facts and details as possible, preferably in writing
  2. Be patient; the C can be a meticulous perfectionist
  3. Clearly communicate expectations and deadlines

Using a tool as powerful as DISC eliminates much of the guesswork for leaders while providing a game plan from which to best communicate with employees.

Download Our Free Hiring Guide.

In this guide, you’ll get access to the seven most important questions to ask when hiring someone. And yes, they go way beyond a basic job description.