Entire sections of bookstores are gathered with books about how to become successful. Every day, the Internet promises hacks and tricks to “become a success at anything.”
Advice on how to be successful is omnipresent. At a certain point, since much of it contains almost the same basic guidelines, it can feel like noise. How many books teach you how to be the opposite – to be unsuccessful? Imagine if you knew what they were, you could subsequently avoid these steps to increase your chances of success in the process. Well, here are 7 things that are guaranteed to make you unsuccessful.
1. Spend time discussing problems as opposed to solutions
Discussing problems tends to bring out additional negative emotions. Since humans experience a huge amount of negative thoughts in a day via habit, creating avenues to stir up additional negativity benefits no one. Analyzing a problem and suggesting solutions will improve it. Consistently pointing out the problems and why it can never be solved? Not so much.
I knew a friend once in the process of a divorce. He couldn’t accept the real truth of the situation and began to slide into depression and anger. The blame eventually shifted to his children and the focus was on how unhappy he was. His best bet was to start thinking about steps he could take to improve himself and better his current family (and relationships down the road). A consistent focus on problems won’t get him there.
2. Too proud to learn anything outside the comfort zone
Becoming comfortable with ideas opposite your own is crucial to life (and business) development.1 People who believe that they’re already good enough or already know enough are likely to get left behind. Remember: 90% of “big data” is generated every two years.2Information moves very quickly these days, and everyone needs to embrace what’s outside their pre-existing knowledge to keep up.
A good pop culture example is the film Doctor Strange. Strange was a very proud doctor and believed that he was the best in doing surgery until he had an accident and had his hands seriously injured. His strong ego stopped him from overcoming the injury. But eventually he had to drop his ego and learned everything from scratch again to live a better life.
3. Unable to enjoy solitude
Some people don’t feel complete unless others are around. Whether this is work partners, a spouse or significant others, kids, friends, or even random strangers at the bar, they need the presence of others to feel supported.
Being alone is actually a stage in life to grow yourself. The reality is that every person is on their own journey and not everyone has a partner all the time. Even in marriages, carving out time for yourself is time-honored advice to be successful.
Alone time can be very reflective: you can much better understand what you do and don’t want, your strengths and weaknesses, and what you’re looking for in life overall.
4. Unwilling to make mistakes
This usually speaks to fear. People who fear making mistakes spend a lot of effort on avoiding or hiding mistakes.
Since mistakes (and overall failure) are inevitable, effort spent on avoiding mistakes is ultimately wasted.
Effort could instead be spent on making more attempts and, in fact, expecting more mistakes. FAIL is re-constituted as “First Attempt In Learning”. It’s a little cliche, sure, but it’s true. If you fail but learn from it, it’s not failure, it’s growth.
People who spend too much time avoiding mistakes prevent themselves from reaching opportunities that help with their growth.
5. Slave for instant pleasure
This has admittedly become more complicated with the rise of social media, but looking for immediate rewards (i.e. get-rich quick schemes, courses promising to make you a billionaire) and underestimating the efforts necessary for real success is very short-sighted.
Instant pleasure almost always comes at the expense of future opportunities.
Imagine I had two offers for you, the first offer was giving you 100 dollars today, and the second offer was giving you 1000 dollars but 1 year later. Most people are likely to take the first offer even though they know they could get more if they waited.
As a result, it becomes nearly impossible to achieve goals, which always involves some degree of long-term sacrifice.
6. Live in the past or the future
People who live in the past focus on what they have done or could have done in the past. They blame their previous faults in the past. They sit around discussing the greatness of something from years ago.
People who live in the future rely on their future to get better. They talk about what they might achieve in the future if only they had the right timing or the right opportunities.
They don’t realize that what they do now — which was shaped in part by the past — becomes their future.
7. Love to compete with others
Competition is healthy in doses, i.e. athletics. But in personal and professional relationship-building, competition becomes too much of a quest for external recognition, i.e. a focus on how to either beat others or become them
As Theodore Roosevelt said,
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Excessive comparison also demotivates individuals because instead of seeing their unique strengths, they view themselves through a prism of others. This motivational source is unstable, which makes achievement uniquely hard.
That’s everything success has blacklisted.
Everyone should aspire to a degree of success, contentment, and happiness around their own life and priorities. We all deserve that chance.
There are millions of white lists out there about how to become successful. Some are obviously more viable and resonant than others. This is a black list on what to avoid.
The goal is still the same. Avoid the above behaviors and success should follow, or at least a greater sense of well-being and motivation. Sometimes you go north by beginning to go south, and that’s how this black list of unsuccessful behaviors can guide you.