Eliminate Self-Defeating Behaviors

One of the first lessons a medical student is taught is this: first, do no harm. Likewise, in your professional life, it might be wise to consider the same advice: first, do no harm to your career. I have chosen to address four self-defeating behaviors that you can avoid, thereby allowing yourself to get out of your own way as you strive to be successful in the workplace.

Getting Involved with the Wrong People. Of course, there are bad people in the world. Choosing to befriend, work for or otherwise associate with “bad” people carries a boatload of negative consequences. Notwithstanding your honorable conduct and intentions, your good reputation may be tarnished merely through guilt-by-association. However, it is more likely that you will harm your career by becoming involved with people who have a different set of values than you do. Working with management or individuals whose values conflict with your own will result in you resisting management’s goals, decision-making and methods of operation. At times, you may even feel that you have compromised your personal integrity, resulting in a loss of energy and a reduction in your productivity. On the other hand, working with managers or individuals who share your values is motivating and inspiring—something I have experienced personally and seen in my clients.

Always Having to be Right. If you are a know-it-all who is always right, most people will not like being around you. If you are a know-it-all who is sometimes wrong, most people will like being around you even less. Always having to be right can create a great deal of resentment. That means you better be right all the time, because the growing crowd of people who resent you cannot wait to see you fail in your performance. Perhaps it goes without saying that you will be much more successful in your career when people are rooting for you, rather than against you. Two other things happen when you always have to be right: (1) your credibility is weakened, and (2) you and your company miss out on the creativity and effective ideas of others.

Having Unrealistic Expectations. Sometimes what seems reasonable and makes sense does not materialize into reality. If your expectation is that when you work diligently with integrity, you will always get a positive reward, most likely, your expectation conflicts with the realities of your life. Unfortunately, there is evidence in the real world that allows many of you to conclude that no good deed goes unpunished. Reliance upon unrealistic expectations will lead to a career filled with constant disappointment. A career of constant disappointments will drain your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energies. I suspect that you will one day learn that, in the grand scheme of things, if you work diligently with integrity, you will earn a favorable reward; however, you may need to take a longer view of things—one that extends well beyond your earthly career.

The maturity to admit their mistakes and learn from them. Successful people also leverage their learning by learning from the Not Learning From Your Mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes—the successful and the unsuccessful. Successful people have mistakes of others. Unsuccessful people have a tendency to repeat the same mistakes, do not learn from the mistakes of others and often fail or refuse to accept responsibility for their mistakes when they make them.

By being aware of self-defeating behaviors—the kind that may harm your career—you can use your talents, skills and knowledge to make better choices. Your challenge is to go beyond merely avoiding self-defeating behavior. Your challenge is to engage in behaviors that will strengthen your career by magnifying your talents, developing your skills and increasing your knowledge.

If you have any questions, feel free to give me a phone call at 303-225-0328. There is never a charge for my consultation time, whether talking to me on the phone or in person. Yes, you read correctly, my consultation time is always free.

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