The Dirty Dozen: 12 Ways That We Sabotage Our Success
Out of the many different ways that we can sabotage our own
success, these twelve are the most common. All of us are guilty
of these behaviors at various times, but knowledge of them gives
us the power to start to banish them from our lives.
1. Ignore your own strengths and weaknesses.
We all have many individual attributes, but it is pointless
trying to be someone or something that we are not. As Peter
Thompson, the great motivational speaker says, "People will only
do who they are."
Don't ignore reality. Learn who you are and build your business
or career accordingly.
2. Stop learning.
For many people, the very idea of learning is something that
they left behind at school or college. They don't read. In their
jobs they only know one way. Their way.
Successful people are universally sponges for information. They
read, listen to tapes, scour the Internet and spend their whole
The best investment anyone can make in their business, career or
life is in their own ongoing education. If you are spending less
than $200 a year on learning new things, you are short-changing
3. Believe that you can make it for free.
'Make $1000 a week with no outlay!'
We've all seen the ads. By all means study them and analyze
their sales and copywriting techniques. But don't believe them.
No person or business can succeed without intelligent and
consistent investment. Some online endeavors may be able to
manage on less capital than many traditional businesses, but
they still need something.
Sure you can operate an affiliate mini site on a free web host,
with free email accounts and do all the writing and coding
yourself. Trouble is, the result is guaranteed to look
amateurish and your chances of making sales virtually zero.
Don't be cheap. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing properly.
4. Try to get before you give.
We live in a gimme-gimme world. It is so easy to have a
take-take attitude. Well, why not? There is so much available,
why shouldn't we get our share first?
Successful people don't think that way. They see the value of
the long term. Anyone can get a short-term benefit, but at what
cost? Trust and respect are built by giving, not by taking.
These two little words are the foundation stone of any
successful business or person.
Whether you are offering free advice or help to a fellow
entrepreneur, or delivering far more than your customers expect,
think of the long term.
Build your business on a firm foundation. After all, there is a
lot of truth in the axiom, 'what goes around, comes around.'
5. Don't set goals.
What do you need goals for when you can play it by ear? Isn't
all that goal stuff just new-age mumbo-jumbo?
No it isn't. Without a clear objective you can never reach your
target. How many times have you heard a soldier being commanded
'Ready ... Fire.' There are always two little words in the
middle: 'Take Aim'. Imagine the consequences otherwise!
Every successful person has mastered the art of setting goals.
As Martha Lupton put it, 'To get anywhere, strike out for
somewhere, or you'll get nowhere.'
6. Don't focus.
In any given day we have thousands of thoughts, hundreds of
memories, scores of outside influences, dozens of helpful ideas,
tens of items on out to-do lists. But of all these things, only
one is important enough to take our full attention, right at
High achievers have mastered this art. They have the ability to
focus 100% of their mind, creativity, intuition and experience
into a single laser beam that burns to the heart of the problem.
Then they move on to the next.
But which problem to start with? Two books that are very helpful
in teaching you to identify what is important, and what is
merely a time waster, are 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People' by Stephen Covey, and, 'The 80-20 Principle', by Richard
7. Hate change.
Put simply, it is far easier to sit back and do what you know,
than to innovate.
Yet business or business person who is content to let things
carry on as they always did will quickly find to their cost that
the world doesn't wait with them.
'Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past
or to the present are certain to miss the future.' John F.
8. Try once, then stop.
We are all guilty of this at some time. If at first you don't
succeed, give up.
Success doesn't see it that way at all. The road to success is
almost never paved. It is full of potholes, littered with the
blown down trunks of deserted dreams and blocked by obstacles.
But there is gold at the end, and unless you keep on trekking,
you will never find it.
Edison made 10,000 useless light bulbs before he found the one
J. K. Rowling sent Harry Potter to 20 publishers before one took
They never gave up. Successful people don't.
'Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how
close they were to success when they gave up.' Thomas Edison.
9. Think that you are more important than the customer.
Let's be arrogant. We can tell our customers what they want, and
they'll thank us for it. Yeah right. And Ford still make only
I had lunch with the editor of a major British women's magazine
a few years ago and asked her how she responded to feedback from
'My dear,' she said, 'I'm the editor. It is my job to tell them
what they want, not the other way round.'
It came as no surprise that 6 months later she was fired, and a
few months after that the magazine folded.
Don't ever be guilty of corporate arrogance. Even the might Coca
Cola company can be brought to heel by angry consumers (over the
introduction in 1985 of New Coke). Just think what negative PR
could do to you.
10. Sit back and wait for it to happen.
Whoever said 'Build a better mousetrap and they'll beat a path
to your door', had no idea of how business works.
You can have the best web site, the best book, the best store in
the mall, but if you don't tell anyone, so what?
The very word business means the state of being busy.
Marketing and innovation are the locks on the door of successful
businesses. Action is the key that opens that door so that you
can see, as Howard Carter put it when he opened the tomb of
Tutankhamen, 'Wonderful things.'
'The individual activity of one man with backbone will do more
than a thousand men with a mere wishbone.' William J. H.
11. Listen to your peers.
Surely it is a good idea to listen to what your Dad has to say
about your business? Or your sister, or doctor, or cab driver?
Everyone has an opinion. Unfortunately, most people are
programmed to fail, and can't see the positive aspect of
If you allow other people's negativity to infect your thinking,
all of your endeavors are doomed. Most will probably never even
It is vital that you have faith in what you are doing. If you
have that faith, and you have seriously thought through all the
issues, surround yourself with positive people and go for it.
12. Don't belive you can succeed.
What has self-belief got to do with it? Either you have a
successful business, or you don't.
Trust me on this. If you have a cast-iron, unshakeable belief in
your future success, then every action you take will be a
positive one. It may take time, but you will be on the right
Nothing else is more important than this self-belief.
But, the moment you allow any doubt to creep in, you will
instantly be on the road to failure.
Let's give the last word to Abraham Lincoln who said, 'Let no
feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end, you are
sure to succeed.'