Most people are “measured” by the success they have which becomes the results we aspire to emulate. Little attention, however, is given to the small, commonsense, practical things that often lead to failure. While we cannot avoid all missteps along the way – particularly if we are committed to initiating new solutions, forging alternative paths and seeking places where “no person has ever gone before” – there ARE some sure-fire mistakes we make that minimize our chances of success. If we are able to identify and avoid these simple assumptions, pitfalls and roadblocks we will be able to avoid debilitating failure. Some of these “common sense” areas that promote mistakes and disruptive missteps would include:
Mistaken Assumption #1: PEOPLE DO NOT ENTER INTO A RELATIONSHIP (OR A NEW JOB) UNLESS THEY ARE FULLY EQUIPPED TO PERFORM. THEY ABSORB AND IMPLEMENT NEW IDEAS AS THEY GAIN EXPERIENCE. THERE IS NO NEED TO BUDGET FOR OR INVEST IN TRAINING – IF A PERSON IS NOT CAPABLE OF DOING, PARTICIPATING IN OR SHARING SOMETHING HE OR SHE WOULD NOT BE ENGAGED/INVOLVED. Insecure individuals often feel threatened by others who “know too much” or are “overqualified.” Unless a degree of “shared success” can be established, refusing to allow or permit one individual doing everything with the other accomplishing very little, a partnership cannot grow. Individuals perform better when they have a high (but realistic) self –concept – knowing they are fully equipped to perform any job that is assigned or to contribute in the resolution of any problem that is faced while in a relationship. Managers of excellence recognize that elevating their people’s skills will enhance their own ability to contribute more to their organization. Individuals should be capable of assuming more than their basic job responsibilities so that both employee AND manager has time to seek new challenges. Within ANY relationship, once part of the equation feels underappreciated – when all participants can no longer gain from expanding their knowledge base or trying new approaches – the beginning of an inevitable end has clearly revealed itself.
Mistaken Assumption #2: IF EVERYONE WERE TREATED EQUALLY THERE WOULD BE NO REASON TO COMPLAIN AND ALL WOULD WORK TOGETHER TO BEST COMPLETE WORK, PROJECTS OR RESOLVE STICKY ISSUES WITHOUT CONFLICT. THE BEST WAY TO AVOID CONFRONTATION IN ANY SITUATION IS TO TREAT EVERYONE THE SAME REGARDLESS OF THEIR ABILTIY TO CONTRIBUTE OR THEIR CAPABILITY TO GROW. Rewarding all equally for the work that has been done regardless of individual effort, while often the easiest thing to do, creates animosity within the “high achievers” in our world and NEVER results in everyone BEING the same. All organizations and relationships need leaders – people of dreams, individuals of vision, contributors that take calculated risks to receive proportionate rewards. Successful leaders will reward excellence rather than celebrating mediocrity – expecting all to rise to the top rather than pulling the top down to eliminate differences. They identify and recognize individuals who can give back as much (if not more) than they take away from relationships – rather than those seeking comfort in “acceptability” or hiding within the shadows of doubt. While giving across the board increases may be an “easy” way to go, it tends to encourage those who can truly contribute to take their talents elsewhere, leaving behind those who are ecstatic to be paid good money for average results. Treating every individual “the same” will reduce opportunity as it blends individuality into a single “nobody wins – everybody loses” package. One must climb from a solid base of support in order to grow – at work OR within a shared relationship.
Mistaken Assumption #3: CRITICIZE INDIVIDUALS WHENEVER YOU CAN – IT BUILDS CHARACTER AND MOVES NEGATIVE ATTENTION AWAY FROM THOSE LESS CAPABLE OR MAY BE DOING AN INFERIOR JOB. Finding out who caused a major loss and addressing him/her publicly may serve to make sure that the mistake is not repeated – and the example made may help ensure nobody else will make a similar mistake - but what is really gained by addressing the individual WITHOUT correcting the action that caused the problem? Weak managers critique and criticize while great managers identify root causes then provide tools or training to minimize the chances of recurrence. Accepting an individual does not necessarily mean we also accept his or her actions – it simply allows us to keep our mind open as we separate the “person” from the “action” in life. We should not accept poor results or bad decisions but we must be careful to avoid criticizing the person rather than the action. NEVER attack the offender – address the offense. We seek to insulate the person from the action far too often in our “politically-correct” lives, making excuses for them or forgiving them without consequence. While people learn from their mistakes, they must be given the tools and the opportunity to change their behavior if they are to become the foundation of an organization’s success.
Mistaken Assumption #4: REST ON THE RESULTS OF YOUR SUCCESS BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THE SIGNIFICANT THINGS YOU DO. Life is not static. It is a continuum of change. The sun rises and sets each day. Life begins (and ends) each day. Relationships come and go with little regard to those left behind. Individuals comfortable with success rarely accept the status quo as being sufficient – they seek to expand it. We should never accept “good enough” as being adequate. Rather than seeing today’s accomplishments as an end to the day, some see them as where tomorrow begins. While good things may come to those who wait, successful people often create their own future by acting in ways that are noticed by others, allowing their actions to speak louder than their words without having to raise their own banner inviting praise.
Mistaken Assumption #5: DO NOT EMBARRASS OTHERS BY PUBLICLY POINTING OUT WHAT THEY HAVE DONE. PRAISE PEOPLE PRIVATELY SO YOU CAN BE MORE PERSONAL IN YOUR COMMENTS. If you compliment one person you may have to compliment everyone, right? WRONG! We must know when to criticize AND when to praise, recognizing that each individual has personal gifts, talents and abilities that ARE NOT equal. Maximize the possibility of success by identifying strengths and creating environments that rely on or encourage the use of those strengths (while minimizing the need to act within areas of weakness).
Whenever we assume before we investigate or we think we know (and act on our assumptions) when we know we should think (prior to acting) we minimize our chances for success. It takes practice, patience, perseverance (and personal sacrifice) to rise to the top. Success and accomplishment does not come to those who take the easy way out or assume only the best and are unprepared for the alternative (rather than hoping for the best WHILE preparing for the worst). Success tends to come to those who seek it, study alternatives that will help provide it, initiate actions that continuously promote it, monitor (and react to) results along the way and are willing to alter their direction (when conditions change) rather than staying the course regardless of what happens. Do not assume success will find you – rather seek it out and make it happen.