Here at Master of Herself, we often focus on building the habits that will make us the strongest, most successful and most whole women that we can be. But we can learn just as much from what defines success as we can from what does not define success. We’ve already talked about the qualities top achievers have (here), so what kinds of behaviours do they avoid? What kinds of behaviours lead to mediocrity?
1. Staying in your comfort zone
This is absolutely critical to your growth and success. The best opportunities are the ones that make us think in ways we’ve never thought and live in ways that we’ve never lived. As they say, if you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. When was the last time you traveled? Got on stage? Added some adventure to your life?
2. Defining the present and future by the past.
No matter what your past was like, it has no barring on your future or on your present. I know, I know. That might sound trite. Here’s what I mean: if you grew up poor, you can see wealth. Massive wealth. If you grew up an ugly duckling, you can become a bombshell. Nobody cares if you got laughed at as a kid or if you were voted least likely to succeed in high school. That was then. What are doing TODAY to make yourself into the person you want to be tomorrow?
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. – Nido Qubein
A lot of the times when we fail to see success in certain areas, it’s because of the invisible stories we tell ourselves without knowing it. It has absolutely nothing to do with a “lucky hand” or innate talent. Successful people know that their life and their future is in their control; unsuccessful people continue to play their old stories like a broken record, preventing them from living a different future or present. Successful people know that hard work and hustle beat natural talent any day of the week and that the past is completely unrelated to the present.
3. Refusing to grow.
As they say, if you do not step forward then you will always be in the same place. While a lot of the root cause of this can be traced back to fear of regret, nothing could be less true in the long term. Take this quote from Michael Schwalbe, for example.
Of the many regrets people describe, regrets of inaction outnumber those of action by nearly two to one. … We are left with a paradox of inaction. On one hand we instinctively tend to stick with the default, or go with the herd. Researchers call it the status quo bias. We feel safe in our comfort zones, where we can avoid the sting of regret. And yet, at the same time, we regret most those actions and risks we did not take.
Nearly two to one. Yikes. It’s a terrible Catch-22, but those fears that have you standing still are the ones you have to face or else you’ll face true regret. What’s the worst that could happen by taking a chance?
4. Avoiding failure.
Who likes failure?
As it turns out, successful people do.
Well, they like what it does – teaches you in a way that no book, mentor, or even success story can. While unsuccessful people are studying, researching, asking opinions, and otherwise waffling, successful people are out there firing away. And that’s what separates the real success stories from those who just think about trying.
You can learn more in one year of action than you can in ten years of non-action or fake-action, especially from failure. Go out there and fail. Fail a lot. No matter how foolish you might think you look, you won’t regret it
5. Being a people-pleaser.
The most surefire way to make sure that your needs never get met is to take care of everybody but yourself. That not only goes for emotional self-care, but also your dreams. If you care more about the opinions of others than your own, you will never reach your true goals. It’s that simple.
I’m going to be honest: if you want to do anything worthwhile, at least one person of importance is going to try to talk you out of it. It might be your husband, your kids, your mother, your boss, or your inner antagonist, but somebody is going to inject guilt or self-doubt into your dreams and you have to learn the life-saving skill of saying no if you want your success story to come to fruition.
And the bigger the dream, the greater the headwind you’ll have to fight off. Successful people don’t care about the opinions or judgements of haters. They don’t sacrifice their dreams just to make someone else comfortable.
6. Not considering other people.
At first, this might seem a little contradictory to the first point. While successful people don’t do unnecessary people-pleasing, they do consider other people and their opinions.
Top performers understand that they aren’t good at everything. Their ego doesn’t get in the way of their success; they gladly take advice from others and love brainstorming with other people. If they have a weak point, they reach out to others who excel in that area. They know exactly who will help them and who will derail them on their journey and choose their social circle wisely.
7. Not taking responsibility.
Have you ever noticed how people who never get what they want always blame it on the economy, on fate, or on god? Do top performers really get to where they want to be on talent or luck alone?
My observations say no. Top performers don’t care about circumstances, because they’ll make an opportunity of anything – good or bad. While other people are licking their wounds and lamenting their poor luck, they’re busy building an opportunity to make things better.
They understand that they are where they are in life not because of fate or luck, but because of the collection of small choices that they’ve made throughout their life. High achievers don’t feel bound by their past because they know that they can turn those experiences into something better. Just as important, they don’t wait for opportunities to come to make their life better – they go out there and make those opportunities happen.
Opportunities don’t come knocking on the door. They present themselves when you knock that door down. – Antonio Quintero
8. Quitting when it gets hard/scary/uninteresting.
Think about the most profound, incredibly rewarding experiences a person could ever have.
Maybe you thought of marriage, parenthood, or making it to the top of your career. Maybe you thought about traveling the whole world or making a huge impact on a charitable cause.
Chances are that you have a rosy, romantic vision about those things. They’re incredible, right?
But the journey there, and to anywhere worthwhile, is fraught with difficulty, lack of direction, and a whole lot more vulnerability than you could ever imagine you’d encounter starting out.
People who reach their dreams don’t give up at the first, second, or 458th hurdle there. They stick around when it gets tough. They keep fighting when it gets scary and confusing, even if it makes them look foolish. And they even stick around when it gets plain uninteresting.
Lack of commitment and resolve is the number one thing that keeps people from their success story. Even if it makes you cry and question your sanity, never let your vision go just because it’s difficult or scary. Anything worthwhile is.
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” – Charles Bukowski
9. Focusing on perfection, not progress.
A lot of people believe that top performers create only the best work. That they will nit-pick their work to perfection before bringing it to the world.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Top performers focus on progress, not perfection.
As we explained in point #4, successful people are not afraid of failure. They care about learning and growing, and they know there is no better way to do that than to get instant feedback on their work. They know that moving forward is better than remaining stagnant, even if that means receiving constructive criticism.
This reminds me of two friends of mine. One friend dreams of being a published author. He talks about it day in and day out, but when asked when he’ll publish his first book, says it still needs the finishing touches. Another friend is an engineer who couldn’t care less whether people think he’s an amazing author or a joke, but has already published three books. Because he didn’t focus on perfection, he made progress and achieved his goal. Better yet, he got fantastic feedback on his first book that helped him write an even better second and third book. That’s writing experience that my author-to-be friend has never had – the kind you can’t pick up in a book or by weighing things in your mind.
Again, you’ll learn more in one year of doing than ten years of thinking.
10. Letting fear prevent action-taking.
This is by far the most important point. If you take away nothing else from this article, let it be this: that without taking action towards your goal – real, focused action – you have no better chances than the person who’s plopped on the couch watching reruns on TV.
I don’t care if you’re scared.
I don’t care if you don’t know what you’re doing.
You don’t have to be an expert on the first day.
If you let fear of failure, rejection, or lack of finesse hold you back, then you will never live the life you dream of. Much of what contributes to a successful life is less of what we do and more of what we don’t do – take massive, committed action towards our dreams, without letting haters, failure, or our own inner antagonist derail us.
Are there any habits that you need to work on? Are there any that you would add? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!