I’M often asked, “What’s the number one mistake that people make when they’re trying to achieve their goals?” Whether it’s closing a deal, chasing a promotion, or starting up a business, what’s the common pitfall for go-getters?
What I’ve noticed over the years is that even high achievers can make this critical error – they make their goal all about themselves. When the close is stalling, the customer should be grateful and accept my deal.
When a promotion is up for grabs, the boss should recognise my talents and hard work. When I’m starting up a business, people should be aware that my product is the best the market has to offer.
It may seem counter-intuitive in our competitive world, but it remains a neglected open secret:
When you focus on creating value for others; when you’re all about solving people’s problems; when the last thing you think about is the bottom line, the return on investment will pay you back handsomely especially when you have the right motivation and pay attention to what really matters.
Understandably, many of us have the hunger to achieve our dreams no matter what it takes. Sadly, human nature is such that we always expect things to go our way, for people to recognise our value and potential, and for the road ahead to be smooth all the way.
Those who have created their own success stories know that life doesn’t always flow in our favour, and so, they take necessary steps to ensure that even if they’re thrown off course, they can quickly get back on track.
Let’s take a look at five lessons we can all use to build a sense of perspective, resilience, and determination in order to help us achieve our goals faster:
1. Widen your perspective
Our ego can be a powerful driver in helpful ways, but if we let it run wild, it can rob us of seeing other points of view, empathising with others, and deploying patience when it’s needed.
All of this inhibits our learning, which means that our growth becomes stunted – and all because we prefer the comfort of being in our own bubble. By actively questioning our assumptions, views, and biases, and taking the time to really listen to others, we can benefit much more than we imagine in the short and long run.
2. Look to re-frame (and learn from) setbacks
People who display mental strength build the foundations of a strong mind by looking for the lessons and opportunities that come from setbacks, rather than to see them as failures.
So much psychological energy is wasted when we dwell on what might have been or the perceived unfairness of our situation.
For example, if you get passed over for a promotion, one choice is to ruminate and grow bitter about the missed opportunity. A productive way to handle it would be in re-framing the setback to see it as a means to figure out which skills you need or which areas you need to strengthen and work at making those improvements for the next time a promotion comes around.
Failure is never final, but it is always a great teacher to the willing student.
3. Seek honest feedback
It’s great to hear from others what they think we’re good at, and it’s certainly the case that leaders should praise their team whenever it’s called for.
Having said that, if we want to improve our abilities and raise our game to the next level, it’s clearly a good idea to know how we can do that and the ways in which we might be holding ourselves back.
By soliciting honest feedback, we not only get a sense of where we need to improve when it comes to our skills; we also get an insight into how others perceive us and this can prove valuable when it comes to reflecting on how we can become better in our interactions with people.
4. Always be open to new ideas and information
How many people stop growing because they stop learning, or feel that their ways don’t need revising or updating?
Any successful person you can think of today possesses this valuable trait – they never stop being students and are always on the lookout to learn new ideas, read about the latest developments, and discover what lies beyond their own field of knowledge.
The world continues to change rapidly, and new ways of doing things more efficiently and effectively are constantly being discovered. Always keep yourself open to new trends, seek out new ideas and information and, as a result, you’ll avoid being set in your ways.
5. When motivation fails, choose discipline
There isn’t a single person who feels great all the time, every day. We all have those moments when we struggle to motivate ourselves in order to do what needs to be done.
Where motivation is lacking, discipline never fails. Sometimes – to get the ball rolling – we might need to kick-start our discipline by, say, telling someone we respect about a particular goal and then holding ourselves accountable for achieving that goal.
Motivation is great when it works, but when it doesn’t, neither do you. Find ways to ensure you’ll be disciplined to make the most of every day and you’ll be farther along the road than those who are sitting still, waiting to be inspired.