We tend to go through our days robotically. If you look closely and honestly at yourself, you will discover that your life is almost completely composed of habits. Your subconscious and unconscious programming drive almost all your behaviors. Even your thoughts and moods are repetitive – they’re essentially the same – day in and day out.
Now some of your habits are helpful. Those are the ones you want to keep and nurture. But some of your habits are impeding. They don’t serve you, and it’s likely that they don’t serve others either. Those are the habits you want to become acutely aware of. Why focus on the negatives that you don’t want to think about or dwell on? The answer is simple. Change doesn’t happen without awareness.
In another blog, I listed 10 ways your behavior conflicts with success. And it struck a nerve. It was a wakeup call. I say that because so many people reached out and thanked me for that blog. One reader asked, “Can you share 10 more?” Yes, I can. Here’s ten more.
Perhaps you’ll discover another habit that gets in your way. A different one that keeps you from reaching another level of success or that keeps you from receiving that promotion you want or that keeps you from being your best self.
- You don’t make the time. Successful people don’t have the time, they don’t find the time – they make the time. You will always make time for what’s important to you. Plan. Prioritize. Make appointments with yourself. Break down big tasks. And get up early! Statistics show the most successful people get up early and use that distraction-free time well. If you haven’t heard of or adopted the Miracle Morning 10-minute productivity routine – try it! It changes lives.
- You add too much value. This is where you can’t stop improving upon an already great idea or taking over a document or presentation and always “making it better” – when it’s already good enough to great. Next time ask yourself: is making that small improvement, constantly redlining to the nth degree, worth the cost of lowering the person’s enthusiasm and commitment? Maybe. But maybe not.
- You don’t self-reflect and choose. Life is a series of choices. The choices we make will shape who we are, how we feel about ourselves, the consequences we will experience, the rewards we will reap, the habits we will keep and the habits we will discard. While we certainly don’t have to “do” anything – life will go on – choice is the gift that offers us the opportunity to choose who we are and what we do. What’s more powerful than that?
- You claim undeserved credit. You know this type of leader, they’re quick to take credit for the wins, and quick to point fingers for the loses. By any chance, is this a habit of yours? Do a quick self-check. How often do you privately self-congratulate yourself while failing to look at who else contributed to the win? Start building the conscious habit of crediting your team for the wins and taking accountability for the failures. That’s leadership.
- You always strive for perfection. Fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, and fear of criticisms are just some of the reasons why people become “perfectionists.” Would you be surprised to learn that research shows perfectionism leads to a drop in productivity and performance? Of course not. Common sense tells you that level of energy output is usually not commensurate to the uptick in the result achieved. Not to mention, perfectionism can also increase stress, negative self-talk, and poor work-life balance.
- You cling to the past. Staying stuck in old ways of doing things or dwelling on the past to blame others for what went wrong keeps us mired in the status quo. We do this reflexively. We do this to avoid discomfort. I did this when Covid happened. I quickly decided I would cancel all future in-person workshops and would not conduct them virtually. I knew virtual would not be effective. I knew my five-star workshop ratings would quickly plummet to 3 stars or worse. Mercifully, my team convinced me to lean into conducting live, virtual workshops. All my fears were unfounded. But, nonetheless, my initial default was strong – don’t change, cling to what has worked – a powerfully deceptive automatic response for a leader to embody in the 21st century. Stay conscious.
- You’re reactive when you’re triggered. You defend. You blame. You lash back. This is a very harmful behavioral habit – and it’s very, very common. When someone says something or something happens and you take it personally, feel attacked or threatened – your amygdala gets triggered, and you will move into a “fight or flight” response. This is normal. It’s an evolutionary, biological protective response designed to keep you safe and alive. Unfortunately, this is also when you lose all capacity for rational thinking. This is when you will say and do things that you may later regret. While your hyperactive amygdala is initially responsible for your reaction, it’s ultimately your responsibility to train yourself to respond, not react. Yes, this is not only possible – your leadership and your life will be better for it.
- You already know. If you’re a subject matter expert, you are probably prone to this tendency whether you realize it or not. You come into conversations, especially conversations in your area of expertise with the perspective that “you already know,” “you know better,” and ”there’s nothing others can teach you.” You already have all the answers. While you may be an expert, this perspective keeps you from learning, from listening, and from experimenting. It’s no surprise that breakthroughs often come from outsiders, people outside the profession. Their fresh perspectives allow them to think creatively. They’re not stuck in paradigms and beliefs of “knowing,” because they’re not experts in the field.
- You tell the world how smart you are. Perhaps you offer false modesty. Perhaps you announce that “you’re three steps ahead of everyone.” Perhaps you go on a diatribe/monologue consuming 25 minutes of a 30-minute meeting. Or you’re quick to tell others you already know. These are just some examples of announcing to others how smart you are. Don’t get me wrong, people like smart people, they just don’t like it when they subtly or overtly announce it.
- You procrastinate. This habit gets set very young. A few years ago, when I worked with a group of high achieving, high school seniors who all confessed to being procrastinators. I was shocked – these were top honors, straight A students! What I didn’t realize at the time was how common procrastination is. Harvard Business Review research shows most of us delay tasks. But as all those students learned in our work together, procrastination is a conversation. Each student became self-aware of how they individually created procrastination, and each student was able to eliminate the habit during our time working together. Change your conversation, and you’ll change your procrastination habit.
When you can eliminate one or more of these habits, you are on your way to better performance. If you have trouble identifying your blind spots (aka areas of opportunity), an executive coach can help bring them to light so they can be addressed.