Life would be great if all of us aspired to achieve some degree of doing more, being more, and giving more. I’m blessed to work among a group of clients and colleagues who work very hard to rise to that possibility. As impressive as these people are, most of us can make immediate gains – in our personal and professional lives – just by cutting out or cutting down on the stupid things that most of us believe and act on. As a tongue-in-cheek pragmatist, and since it is the season of New Year’s Resolutions, here’s my list of the top 5 stupid things to stop doing in order to be better:
- Stop Ignoring Your Best People – It’s mind-boggling when you think about, but many (I’d say most) managers and leaders spend LESS time thinking about, and working to support, the development of the very people on whom they depend the most. High-performance folks need at least as much care and nurturing as anyone else on your team and – by the way – they deserve it.
BONUS SUGGESTION: Make sure to extend your investment of time to those people in your life who mean even more to you than your best colleagues. Maybe this one should read: Stop Ignoring People?
- Stop Taking Yourself so Seriously – High on the list of bad habits we have is checking our humor – especially about ourselves – at the door when we hit the office. Take what you do seriously, by all means, but not yourself. It requires fewer muscles to smile than to frown (and you look better when you smile). And laughter, if you haven’t tried it in a while, it feels fantastic.
BONUS SUGGESTION: People find a sense of humor very attractive, so …
- Stop Over-thinking…EVERYTHING – Don’t get me wrong, thinking is highly desirable. Over-thinking is not. We have neurons in our gut and our heart as well as in our brain, and they give us good data. When you’ve done your homework, ideally guided in part by instinct (gut), your values (heart), and the facts/knowledge (brain), these attributes will align with your feelings. And you must ACT. Most often we have to do something to learn something. So, yes, do the work; and then do something.
BONUS SUGGESTION: Over-thinking too often comes into play when it relates to personnel matters. You know what you should do, yet you don’t do it … for all kinds of reasons. The extension and expansion of pain and damage that occurs as a result of failing to act when you first know you should, can be significant. Act when you first know it’s time.
- Stop Taking Yourself for Granted – Our culture glorifies high achievement, though sometimes we’re guilty of mistaking time invested for value created. Even when value is being created, we forget about sustainability and – sometimes – efficiency. The number of folks who become so focused on what they’re doing that they burn out and over commit that their skill atrophy is high. Build time in for you. Commit to continuous learning. Essentially, keep yourself and your toolkit fresh. It’s a better way to be.
BONUS SUGGESTION: Echoing a couple of the points above, make sure you don’t make the mistake of taking others for granted either – including believing you’re up-to-date on what they’re interested in. Be curious. Ask. Care. Respond.
- Stop Trying to Do It Alone – There are two great fictions in the coverage of success: 1) that the achiever acted alone, and 2) that success came quickly and/or unfolded in a linear fashion. We do our best work when we band together with like-minded, but different people. The road tends to be longer than we think, and it comes with more curves and hills. The journey we take will be more productive and enjoyable if we join with others who can help us do more, do it better, and do it differently.
BONUS SUGGESTION: Apply the idea that we’re better together than alone, that we haven’t cornered the market on all things good or right – from how to hire and sell to how to fold laundry – anywhere and everywhere you can. What you’ll be able to do and how it will feel when you do it is remarkable.
Be well and do well in 2017. You can start by stopping (see above)!