Almost thirty years of work experience has taught me many things. One of the most important is that “life” and “work” isn’t nearly as separate as many believe. There is a thin, if any, line between them and your happiness and success. Another lesson is that the attitudes you carry permeate analogously through both.
Based on my experience working with people from many walks of life and hundreds of professions, I’ve noticed some “thought culprits” that hold back those that would otherwise be much happier and more successful.
You think major setbacks are dreadful. Nonsense. The major setbacks you face as you pursue your life’s purpose will never hurt as much as the accumulation of half-hearted stumbles you continually encounter performing acts you don’t love for people you don’t care about.
You think you shouldn’t speak your mind. Always speak your mind, especially when it makes your voice shake. Just remember to speak your mind tactfully. If the person on the listening end isn’t interested, whether personally or professionally, reevaluate whether he or she is worth your time.
You think you need to surround yourself with people who think like you and tote “normal” thinking. I like to surround myself with people who provoke the status quo, not ones who regurgitate it to me. You don’t need someone to tell you you’re right. You’re better off with someone who stimulates and expands your thinking.
You think because you work hard you’ll get ahead. At the end of every day, don’t ask yourself whether you worked hard. No one cares. Ask yourself whether you accomplished anything worthwhile. (No one cares about this either, but at least you’ll be progressing.) Some days you’ll have to work harder than others for that answer to be “Yes.”
You think the world has limits. No one who thinks according to a process, with constraints, budgets, or whatever other parameters they feel necessary to operate within has ever created anything unique and amazing. Genius comes from someone who has a vision free of constraints and without regard for resources, and was able to find the passion and energy to make it work.
You think your life is someone else’s responsibility. Maybe you chuckled at this one, but most people believe this. It’s statistically proven that 75% of individuals are externally focused. That is, they default to thoughts such as My boss is driving me crazy or I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for her or I would have gotten that promotion if it weren’t for him. Become internally focused so you think I need to react better to the way my boss treats me or I’ll see what I can do to help us get out of this position or I’ll work harder next time so I earn the promotion.
You think life should go according to plan. Just because you have a plan and operate it effectively doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. Plans are wonderful when used correctly, but I like to emphasize that in most cases history has shown us that you, your team, or your company already has all the resources you’ll ever need to accomplish something. You’ll never have the know-how to actually accomplish anything, however, until after you act. And, every act you perform along the way will require you to alter your plan is some way.