5 Behaviors That Block Your Success (And How to Get Unstuck)

You might not even be aware, but you may have some behaviors you exhibit at work that could be holding you back, and preventing you from getting what you want and where you want to be.

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In work, as in life, we don’t always have the clearest view of the impact we make. That’s why it’s sometimes helpful to step back and reflect on how we are progressing towards our goals, and what might be getting in our way.

This process of self-reflection is important, because it lets us gain perspective, and look at our actions and reactions in a calm, impartial way. Even a brief pause like this can lead us to some startling revelations about barriers that we erect in the path of our own success.

So here are a few behaviors to watch out for, and some thoughts about how to move past them:

1.) Confirmation Bias – believing that you already know what you need to know

One thing that can really get in your way is overconfidence. When you work hard to aim at a particular target, it can be difficult to open back up and consider the whole picture — maybe you shouldn’t be aiming at that particular target at all. If you don’t take time to reconsider your progress and recalibrate based upon real information and real feedback, then you run the risk of continuing in a wrong direction.

How you know you’re stuck: You seem to be the only person that can see the outcome you’re heading for. When no one else seems to share your view of where you’re heading, you might not be heading there at all.

The solve: When you think you’re 100% right in pursuing your goals as they are, give yourself a few quick scenarios to consider what you’d do differently if you were wrong about the direction that you’ve chosen. Thinking about What-If for a little bit can help you break out of your preconceived notions and consider a world where your assumptions may be flawed.   

2.) The Messiah Complex – thinking you have to go it alone

It’s critical to remain dedicated to achieving your goals, and self reliance is a valuable trait for making progress on your personal brand. But no man is an island, and asking for help when you need it doesn’t have to mean failure.

How you know you’re stuck: You have refused assistance for the 4th time (today) and you have no idea what to attack next. You may have barricaded yourself off from your team, or been burned in the past for reaching out to co-workers.

The solve: Keep one eye on the prize, but the other eye scanning for team members and bosses who can help. Sometimes you may just need a cheerleader, or a good coach’s perspective in order to see your team as a collection of strengths to be leveraged. It can help to think about the goal as a place to celebrate accomplishment mixed with gratitude for those who worked together to accomplish it.

3.) Moving Goalposts – you keep changing your objective

It’s great to set ‘reach’ goals, which are intentionally tough to achieve and require sacrifice and dedication in order to meet them. But sometimes we can trick ourselves into chasing a phantom of success, and the ensuing exhaustion can wear teams down, and water down the progress made in senior management’s eyes.

How you know you’re stuck: If you find yourself (or your team) saying “Nothing is never enough!”, then it’s likely that you’re being wishy-washy with goals and not setting a solid objective and sticking with it. Another common symptom is feeling like you are over-delivering for months on end, but still feel like you’re getting nowhere.

The solve: You’ll want to find a third party to help you set some realistic goals and keep to them. It can just be a friend or spouse to start with, but ideally you’ll want to have a mentor or coach to help you narrow down your objectives to SMART goals that you can throw yourself behind.

4.) Anti-completion Disorder – you can’t keep focus long enough to finish your task.

Let’s face it, unless you’re on Easy Street, you are probably working on multiple complex projects in your day-to-day life. And even as your To-Do list gets longer, your co-workers needs can spike, and family obligations can further fracture your attention. Even the most organized of us can get flustered and end up running from task to task to task — completing nothing and wasting energy.

How you know you’re stuck: When you’re busy from dawn to dark, but don’t move the big project forward, you may be scattering your attention amongst too many tasks.

The solve: Get some ‘wins’ under your belt. Pick just one task to complete that you can finish in a couple of hours or less and knock it out.  Then pick another few that you can finish in a few days and attack them next. After you get your mojo working, then clarify how to proceed, perhaps picking a portion of your day to focus on single task work, and then another portion for longer-term work. And stay motivated!

5.) Procrastination – you just don’t ever get around to … you know, …

It’s that feeling of dread as you see time slip by, and the deadline approach. And the white page still faces you – daring you to try start work on YOUR MOST IMPORTANT PROJECT. EVER. (Or at least it can feel that way.)

How you know you’re stuck: Everyone does it from time to time, but when you haven’t started to make progress on an important project when your first milestone is coming up, then it may be time to take action.

The solve: First off, be sure that you’ve got any big project broken down into smaller pieces, so you’ll get a head’s up when the first deadline flies by. Jon Nastor wrote a great piece for Entrepreneur magazine on beating procrastination. All his ideas are great, but my personal favorite is to refocus on what is really required, or as he says it: “Done is better than perfect.” If you can avoid the paralysis that sets in due to high expectations, you can start to put your work in. And even if this first work it’s not your best, you still will have begun, and you can go back later and bring it all up to your standards after you’ve broken through that first barrier.

There are other behaviors that can block success — what have you been struggling with?

Related Posts:

Read more here.


MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

To Follow or Not to Follow? 5 Tips for Making the Right Bet

In this world of LIONs, and Ninjas and Gurus, it’s hard to know who is worthwhile to add to your network, versus who is out to SPAM you. Is online networking all just a game of chance or are there ways to know the right thing to do?

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I’m Team MaybeFollowBack.

LION, which stands for LinkedIn Open Networker, is a designation used by people and groups on LinkedIn, indicating their focus on interconnectivity, and broadcasting that they want to network with other LinkedIn members. The concept is entirely user-created (i.e., not endorsed by LinkedIn, which requests that you only connect to people you know and trust). To me, it’s a philosophical decision whether or not to join the LIONs.  You first need to decide why you’re on LinkedIn in the first place. And either you want to play by their ‘rules,’ or you’re willing to bend them to get what you want. And maybe you want a super-high connections count, if you believe that will benefit you in some real way.

But even if we put LinkedIn aside, you have similar situations on Twitter and Facebook and other social media sites. No matter where you are, it seems there are always people and groups whom you don’t know, that reach out to you and ask you to make a connection.

So what should you do? Follow them all back? Some? Which ones?

I’ve always said, it better to have a strategy than to go around making decisions willy-nilly, so here are my strategies for following back, connecting, and deciding when to make new ‘friends’ on social media in ways that can help you build your personal brand.

  1. Set It and Forget It – If you don’t really care, and let’s face it, a lot of people don’t, then go ahead and follow back everyone. But make sure that this strategy aligns with your personal brand. And since my brand is all about the intersection of marketing and technology,  I strive to ensure I gather as many of those kinds of connections as I can, while avoiding SPAM, because…
  2. SPAM Friends Suck – As a rule, don’t connect with obvious spammers. The best way to know a spammer is to (*sigh*) read their latest comments or posts to see what they’re all about. If the posts all scream “5,000 followers for $5!” then you know it’s a SPAMbot. I also try to avoid connecting with people that I don’t think will benefit from connection with me — so if I get an offer to connect with a profile that seems only to care about steakhouses in Idaho, and I live in Georgia, then I doubt that I will be of any service to this person (or them to me). There is a bit of work to be done here, because you may have to read a few of their posts and articles to know if a connection is going to be worthwhile for you. I try to follow only people who are in my industry or interested in it, but even I fall prey to the initially relevant-appearing people who end up wanting to sell me sunglasses or cutting boards.
  3. Lopsided Follow/Follower Ratio – If a new follower of yours has 20K followers, but only follow 90 people, then I have news for you. They are only going to follow you for about 10 minutes after you follow them back. These types of people are gunning for massive follower counts, but don’t believe in keeping in touch with their followers, just broadcasting to them. Although you may have a chance with one of these every now and then, I’d keep an eye on them. They often seem to be gaming the system in order to look important. And isn’t this supposed to be about conversation and exchange?
  4. Relevance is the New Black – Speaking of reading their posts, if they are writing and commenting on issues that involve you, then definitely follow them back. As a matter of fact, if you find someone who really has their finger on the pulse of your industry or topics that you care about, then I recommend you check out who else they are following — you might find a treasure trove of great thinkers and influencers to learn from. And maybe some of them might decide to follow you back, too!
  5. Track and Reassess – I use tools like WhoUnfollowedMe? to track when people follow and unfollow me on Twitter. Karma is a real thing, so it just makes sense to me that if I make a connection with someone and then I turn around a delete that connection, then maybe it wasn’t such a good idea in the first place.

Deciding to connect with a new friend or colleague on social media can be a crapshoot. Be sure that you’ve got the odds stacked in your favor with strategies that keep you on a winning streak!


MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

Be More Creative: 5 Ways to Unlock New Perspectives

How can you and your team be more creative in attacking the problems that you face on a daily basis?

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In our work today, we face difficult problems, which can seem intractable.

“We need a high quality solution here, but it has to be delivered at almost no cost!”

“We have to finish this work very quickly, but remain 100% error-free!”

“Our budget has been cut 25%, but we’re expected to keep revenue flat!”

Sound familiar? In these situations, we often need to step back from the swirl of activity we’re in and get a new perspective that can help us break through to new ideas.

A recent post on LinkedIn had some great advice for people looking to turbo-charge their creativity – Thomas Stat wrote that the only 4 things you need to worry about are Empathy, Pattern Recognition, Synthesis, and Storytelling. Read his post – it’s got some great advice — and I bet if most of us focused on those four attributes/qualities/skills we’d make a BIG dent in our thorniest problems.

In my last job, I got called ‘creative’ a lot, and it was mainly because I always figured there was a solution out there somewhere, we had just not gotten to it yet. And when I brought people together to solve a big problem, my attitude was always that the only useful energy in the room is energy that is moving us closer to the right answer, or at least a new answer that could be right at some point. So I focused mostly on challenging the perspectives of the people in the room (myself included), to see if we could find a new route to the desired outcome. And in most cases, we cracked it — by not letting our established perspective get in the way of a new way of operating.

We all need ways to attack the big challenging issues that face us. So what are some ways to get to that fresh perspective?

  1. Define what you’re facing. It’s startling how often we tackle problems without a clear definition of what we’re facing and what we’re trying to do about it. This is a common situation when someone asks you to solve a problem and then immediately tells you how to do it. Jumping to the solution too early stifles creativity, and rarely gives you the chance to think creatively about a new solution. Use the time spent on defining the problem to make sure you aim in the right direction, and eliminate distractions that can get in the way of truly solving the problem.
  2. Understand the real constraints. Now that you know where you’re digging, there’s some real work to do in defining constraints or requirements for how you can operate. You want to nail down the barriers that must be overcome. What’s tricky here is knowing what is true and what is convenient. For instance, you want to know the difference between a guardrail that is there to help you clarify (“We have 7 weeks until the sale starts”) and fake guardrails that tell you how the problem has been solved in the past (“We have to buy local radio advertising. Do we?”). Force yourself to throw out fake guardrails and even posit some solutions based upon their opposite (“What if we CANNOT buy local radio advertising?”). In my experience building solutions for consumers, the best constraints and inputs to use in creative sessions are those that are firmly grounded in the customer experience. I try to keep the end-user and their unmet needs in front of me and question everything else that gets in the way of the right experience for them.
  3. Encourage free debate, but eliminate cynics. You want everyone involved to look for solutions, not more problems. So we have to encourage an environment of child-like “How can we…” rather than a skeptical “I don’t see how we can…” In some cases, the very experts that you rely on for their technical knowledge can be a hindrance here, so make sure to work with them carefully. You’ll want them pushing for possibilities, not potential areas of failure. If someone simply can’t remove their critical eye from the ideation process, then gently ease them out of that process and let them know that you’ll gladly welcome them back on the team when it is time to talk about feasibility and operationalizing the idea. They’ll be invaluable then!
  4. Add other ‘newness.’ Change your walls if you can. Literally, get the heck out of the conference room you’re in and take yourself and/or the team to a new location for part of the work. Perspectives have been proven to be changed just by taking a short walk, so try this trick is you get stuck. Then invite a new team member in for a quick download of their thoughts.  This can be especially helpful if you think you’re on to something as a solution, and you need to do a check-in on it. Another method you can use to add newness is to use new tool in your process, like mind mapping, or post-it note sessions, or Systematic Inventive Thinking. Don’t assume that the method you used to solve a problem yesterday is the same way you should solve another one today.
  5. Don’t try to create statements, create scenarios instead. When you get to the point where you are defining what the solution will be, I recommend that you stage it for your boss or client as a story, which can explain the scenario of how and why the solution will work. People respond better to stories than grand statements or bullet points, and it will force you to think about how and why the solution will fit into the life of your end user or client. In some cases my team starts off the whole process by creating a persona of our users, and putting together their story about the tension or frustration that they face. Then when we get to the end of our process, we review the same story to see if we’ve solved the challenge for that persona.

Lastly, remain positive. You want to get the best from yourself and your team, so keep your attitude upbeat and thankful for all the input you get, and all the ideas that you generate. Even weaker ideas can sometimes be made stronger with a little work.

We all can be more creative in solving our toughest challenges, if we’re willing to take on a different perspective.


MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

How to Network Like a Lion, Not A Mouse

Networking: 3 syllables that can strike fear into the hearts of people everywhere.

The problem: How to connect with influential people in your company and industry who can help you be more successful WITHOUT coming across like an annoying used car salesman (with all apologies to used car salespeople everywhere).

 

Well, you have to be a lion, not a mouse.

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You have to be the ruler of your brand, your content, and your skills at connecting with others. By taking charge of all of these items, you’ll step into your own as the King or Queen of your Jungle.

You Have To Know Your Brand

How the Lion rules: The Lion’s brand is the center of its identity, and it continues to express itself in ways that support and extend the central promise of the King/Queen of the Jungle. Even at play, it is fearsome, awesome, and regal.

How the Mouse behaves: Not drawing too much attention to itself, the Mouse hides, scurries, and generally tries to get away with not being seen, heard, or leaving an impression.

Many people, myself included, have written about this before, but at some point you will need to determine what skills or mission that you want people to have in their heads when they think about you. What is it that makes you stand out from others? What do you offer to the world that is uniquely you? And why should people care?

Knowing the answers to these questions can give you a strong ‘center’ from which you can relate to other people, and give you powerful ways to talk about yourself and showcase your personal brand.

You Have To Own Your Content

How the Lion rules: Nothing sounds like the roar of the Lion. It’s an alarm that all creatures heed, and it announces the Lion’s intentions to everything within earshot.

How the Mouse behaves: Squeaking. Mostly unnoticed, and not really concerning anything in particular.

This isn’t about volume. It’s about being specific. You have to believe in your value, your point of view. You should push yourself to be unafraid to share it and make yourself visible. You can control the content about you and your viewpoint that is available online by putting in place the actions and safeguards to make sure that you stand out for the right reasons. You start with a great LinkedIn profile set up, naturally, and then you keep it updated, feeding it with interesting content for you and the people who might want to hear from you. If you think you need more space and freedom to express and share, then set up a blog to capture your thoughts and views.

Just don’t forget that you’ll want to revisit your privacy settings from time to time to make sure that you are not leaving anything public that should be private.

You Have To Connect With Others

How the Lion rules: The Lion has deep connections with its pride — and they are much more social than most other cats. They are deliberate, and calmly powerful.

How the Mouse behaves: Mostly freaking out and running away from light, noise, and people.

Okay – so we’re stretching the metaphor here a little. But the idea is that you want to be courageous in leveraging your own network, and spend your energy wisely in cultivating the relationships you have and the new ones you want to make.

And you should take courage! The big ‘secret’ is that people who know you (and already like you) will generally be open to introducing you to other people that they know well. It’s low risk for them, and an opportunity for you to show gratefulness to them afterwards. Just be sure that you don’t just go around asking for favors from everyone you know. Be selective and deliberate about deciding to connect through a friend. And when you do reach out to those new people, be sure that you remain humble and curious about them and the things that they may need, so you can offer something for them in the connection as well — don’t make it all about you. Make it all about the both of you.

Connecting in a successful way with influential people in your company and industry is important, so be sure to polish up your skills to make sure you’re ready to roar.


MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.