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16 Negative Things Smart People Have Given Up to Be Successful

SimiJuly 11, 2018

9. Conspicuous Consumption

The Netherlands used to have a conservative religion that frowned upon anything materialistic. While the Dutch are far less Puritan these days, they consider anything which smacks of bling or conspicuous consumption as not classy. Where achievers used to pursue success for its material rewards and the power it brought, this is no longer as common. Indeed, few people who chase success for the money find satisfaction when they succeed.

In modern industries where achievers predominate, people pursue success for the love of technology or for the sheer love of the game. Their growing bank balance is a nice addition. However, if they manage it wisely, money can provide them with options not open to others. They have the capacity to live in another country, finance new business ventures or help others in a meaningful way.

Indeed, there are some people whose personal wealth far exceeds what any person can use in several lifetimes. Companies have fortunes and footprints around the world that make them more powerful than some countries. The possibilities for conspicuous consumption now exceed almost all history. And yet the continued success of these businesses and people depends in part on maintaining a low profile in terms of assets.

Conspicuous consumption these days is less of a problem with business leaders themselves. However, it is often more of a problem with their children, who are sometimes subject to reality TV shows about their over-the-top lifestyles. Since most of them earn more money by appearing in these TV shows, it seems the problem is not going away soon. But, as long as consumption exceeds production, they will be on the right side.

10. Not Trusting People

People who work best alone or in start-up businesses sometimes find themselves turfed out as the business expands and they require different skills. Steve Jobs is probably the most famous example of this. A larger business means depending on more people, over whom no one has direct control. Many people struggle to give up direct control. Working indirectly with people to achieve your goals is a skill like any other.

While anyone who works at a senior level nurtures and regularly applies a cynical approach to their decisions, this is an essential but ultimately limiting approach. Even small businesses need assistance to keep running. A degree of trust is the foundation for all working relationships. At some point, one must let go of the cynicism and rely on trust and with faith.

People who have earned the trust of a leader deserve to have them give that trust unreservedly. They will repay that trust many times over. With all the training and coaching they do, there is a point where business owners and managers must rely on their junior staff to interact with customers. Tom Peters calls this, “the last two feet.” In this small space with the customer, people can and will disappoint or exceed expectations.

These days, where online shopping is common, it has become necessary to trust customers. Where retailers have some control over what happens in their stores, online retailers have little to no control over what happens on someone’s doorstep hundreds of miles away. As with staff, businesses can put control systems into place. But in the end, there is a need to rely on other people to ensure a mutual success.

11. Not Believing in People

This is important: trusting people is by no means the same as trusting people blindly. Successful people have learned a lot about others, often thanks to previous failures. They are aware of how much they depend on other people. They know they can’t run a large business operation single-handedly. Achievers learn how to determine who they can trust and who they can’t.

However, successful people don’t simply trust people because they need them. They believe that the right people they manage the right way can do way more than they ever could. And helping other people achieve their dreams isn’t bad, either. Working well with and through people is an advantage many companies ignore or waste. That is the crucial differentiator for success since it is often the only factor to differentiate your business from your competitors.

These days, businesses have systems and databases which provide a degree of transparency making it easier for employees to trust them. However, it also makes them vulnerable to viruses, trojans and other threats. Trusting people is no longer a matter of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Since many businesses have an overseas presence, building relationships with people in distant countries, being able to rely on others is crucial.

Technical skills often require companies to hire and train staff themselves, which leads to a special bond between staff and employer. The long hours that modern employees often work also leads to stronger bonds with their employers.

12. Wearing a Mask

People will exercise their personal judgment over others, particularly their leaders and role models. They will only agree to follow someone and support their vision if they believe them to be honest and authentic. Most senior business leaders find themselves increasingly in the media spotlight. So they need to present themselves authentically to an increasingly large audience.

Showing a degree of humility and vulnerability are important because video technology can bring leaders close enough for others to examine the expressions on their faces. Television debates have changed the dynamics of political elections for many countries. Prominent people often share their opinions on topical matters completely unrelated to their jobs, yet their responses can affect their positions.

Authenticity is something leaders need to build up in times of calm and rely on it in moments of crisis. In the 90’s, the cult of personality was important in business journalism. People considered a CEO as the final arbiter of the fate of their businesses. This has reduced in importance but it still remains valid. The hiring or dismissal of a CEO can still impact a share price profoundly.

Digital media like cellphone cameras record and disseminate every lapse in judgment. Employers will often review Facebook and other feeds from applicants as part of the selection process. It is safe to assume nothing remains a secret for long these days, so behave accordingly.

13. Having Feet of Clay

Being successful means doing something others either can’t do or don’t do as well. Holding the belief that you can achieve something extraordinary is a necessary first step to reaching your goals. You should back your belief with the passion and skill to deliver. Knowing your limits and weaknesses is as equally important, so you can build up your strengths.

Having supportive people around who will hold up an honest mirror when necessary is important for the ongoing success of any leader. You can only learn and grow if you are honest with yourself. Being comfortable enough with yourself and your power to admit weaknesses to others is a way to show your humanity, make yourself relatable and build a connection with your followers.

Many successful leaders prefer to hear from yes-men, but eventually, they lose their success and reputation to hubris. For example, exposure of sexual predators in the entertainment industry was a major theme in the news for 2017. Yet successful leaders must retain a strong belief in themselves to pass on their optimism and passion for their goals to their followers.

People respect the abilities of successful people. But they also appreciate the respect they receive in turn when a leader asks for their help. Having feet of clay helps when gathering loyal supporters around to leverage their efforts and strengths with your own. Knowing your weaknesses and finding support in those areas makes you stronger. Being human can help make you a more successful leader.

14. Listening to Lies and Half-Truths

Most people know a lie when they hear one. But in recent decades, there has been a rise in spin. This is when a person dissembles the truth, then shades and adjusts it to support a certain point of view. Like that old propaganda, it contains some truth to make it credible. It makes the lies subtle and nuanced, so it is more difficult to ascertain the truth. In this environment, some cynicism is necessary.

Successful people must maintain a steady compass, moral or otherwise, in this hard-to-navigate environment. Successful people often must display their spin skills. More importantly, they must cut through the obfuscation to get to the truth of the matter. While they have advisers and PR people to help, this ultimately rests upon them. They must work to keep the practice of truth-telling alive in their organization.

Crucial to this skill is the ability ask the right questions because no one knows everything. Making sure there is the capacity within an organization to question things, rather than act as yes-men is crucial to the sustainability of the business. Recent examples of this failure include several businesses that practiced unethical accounting their auditing firms didn’t pick up until it caused public scrutiny.

This digital age also allows rumors and gossip to travel the world instantaneously. This dissemination means the slightest whisper of the wrong kind can severely impact stock prices or currency levels. Successful people need to know how to critically evaluate such news quickly and take the necessary steps. No one can completely audit the whole internet. Achievers evaluate all web-based research before they use or share it.

15. Worrying What People Think of You

Believing in oneself is an important prerequisite for success. Most achievers have higher standards and set higher goals than the norm. Indeed, successful people are the ones who re-set the standards by which we work and live our lives. Achievers are far too busy working and worrying about other things to ponder about what people think of them. They live in a world where results define their reality, not impressions.

People who worry about the opinions of others will do whatever it takes to make others like them. They often do what other people expect them to do. This is the exact opposite of how achievers behave. In fact, the more individual and original the achiever’s goal is, the more criticism will arise along the way. Achievers surround themselves with positivity, rather than negative influences.

Anyone who does something different is likely to elicit criticism from one person or another. Only the act of doing or saying nothing will protect you from criticism. Again, this is not how achievers behave. Achievers are comfortable with uncertainty and adversity – two things they encounter regularly in their endeavors. People who need the approval of others are not able to live with either of these.

If an achiever worries what others think of them, it could prevent them from taking risks. But risks are an inherent part of any new enterprise or project. Since projects don’t always succeed, there is no space to worry about the opinions of others. It will automatically stop the plan in its tracks. Successful people will seek advice from others, but consider it alongside their own opinions.

16. Choosing Easy Options

Becoming successful is an investment in time, effort, money and yourself. You will also encounter frustration and perhaps even a lost social life. You must commit yourself to an enterprise and that may take several attempts. It will probably many years before you succeed if you succeed. It requires dedication and discipline beyond what many people can muster.

There will also be stress along the way, as well as uncertainty. They will test your belief in yourself. You may have to forego the easy options like social events, being with friends and relaxing, among many other things. However, your life is richer when you enjoy these pastimes to a degree. And when you become successful, your responsibilities will increase, so your free time will decrease.

But, if you have an entrepreneurial personality, the challenges you face are what make life worthwhile. You will feel most like yourself when immersed in the challenges of your projects. Time will fly, and you will feel dynamic and re-energized. Difficulties will fade as quickly as the pain of an athlete starting their next match.

You will feel your experiences, good and bad, with the clarity people who try to numb the pain won’t. Whatever happens, success or failure, you will have memorable experiences and something to show for them. So, you can choose the easy options, or you can choose to challenge yourself to shoot for success.

These are the 16 negative things your smart friends have given up to be successful. Being an achiever is a challenge requiring a big effort on your part. You must be confident but genuine, too. Hopefully, these tips will help you meet any goals you set.

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