by: Lynda McNutt Foster
Some work weeks don’t need any help in being difficult. Many times, though, it’s our own habits that are sabotaging the way things will go well before anyone else gets around to it.
Here are 5 habits that may be sabotaging your mental strength, at work, and that of your team:
1 ENVY. Not helpful. Envy is defined as: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. There aren’t even words in the definition of the envy that are going to move you towards your richest outcomes. Discontented. Replace that with gratitude for what you have been able to accomplish up to this point. Resentful. Give changing the image of the person or situation a shot. If you resent someone for something they did, try reframing the situation in a way that allows you to see the person to be as human as you are. Luck. Not a word of a winner. Everyone knows that the harder your work the luckier you will appear to be. Waiting on or counting on luck will be a serious miscalculation towards successful outcomes.
2 SHOULDING ON YOURSELF AND OTHERS. Your should library, as I like to call it, those things which you say to yourself and others that aren’t based in the reality of a situation, but instead are statements of judgement, probably aren’t serving to move you forward and create more meaningful and productive relationships. Thinking someone “should” or “shouldn’t” talk to you in a certain way; that they “shouldn’t” use that tone; that they “should” move faster… or move more slowly and thoughtfully, will not make it so. Having a habit of constantly persecuting yourself because you “should” manage your time “better”, be more “effective”, or “better” at presenting your idea will not make those things become so. What will make those things happen is focusing on them and building the skills to create better outcomes in those areas. The majority of what you want can be obtained through focus on an outcome you have thoroughly thought through, passion to achieve it, and building the skills necessary to accomplish it.
3 IT’s ONLY HAPPENING TO ME syndrome. There’s a disease known as “ain’t it awful”. We all love to complain, rant, take time to simply wallow in our own miserable circumstances. It feels good and is a relief to do that for a short period of time when we are hit with a situation that we didn’t plan for and never would have if it were up to us. The habit of constantly finding things that are “awful”, staying in that state of mind, and worse, vomiting that dread all over others with our words and sentiments, is destructive. Besides, almost anything that is happening to you has probably happened to someone else. They got through it and if you are open to mentoring, coaching, and are curious about ideas on how to manage the situation, by someone you can trust, you will as well.
4 USING COUNTER PRODUCTIVE WORDS. I had a good friend who used to say, “I’m stressed for success”. Most of us can be heard saying, “That person makes me crazy!” My favorite in this category is “they threw me under the bus”. Really? That just seems really violent to me. Stop a minute and think about that one. If it were true, the result would involve law enforcement. Our words create our worlds. The habit of unintentionally speaking words that you have given little consideration to can sabotage your forward progress, keep you stuck in a situation you do not desire to be in, and completely derail your team members.
5 TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FOR. This was probably the biggest lesson I had to learn to get to the next level. I’m ambitious. Big strength AND, it can be, when misapplied, a huge weakness. I used to rush into situations and take responsibility for things right away. I was the first to raise my hand and say, “Yes!” I will take that project on. “Yes!” I will make sure that gets done. “Yes!” I will lead that initiative or project for you. I had a habit of taking responsibility but not negotiating the terms of authority I would have in the situation. It’s hard to lead a team of people when none of them are told that you have any authority to ask for things you will need from them. The challenges are insurmountable when you are accountable for results, yet have no authority to choose your team, make even the most minor decisions in creating processes or execution. Creating a habit of negotiating your authority, in each professional situation, can make things much easier when you go to execute tasks towards the outcome that was envisioned.
Any of these 5 habits can waste needed time and your energy. More importantly, when they involve other people on your team they be wasting theirs as well. Mental strength requires emotional discipline. Building skills in these areas take focus and practice.
EXERCISE FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK:
At your upcoming team meeting, take 15-20 minutes to discuss which habits are sabotaging each member and the ones that are affecting the forward progress of the team as a whole.
Do a round at the beginning of the meeting wherein each member shares for about a minute regarding one sabotaging habit they would like to replace with one that they can envision would lead to better outcomes.
If someone chooses the habit of ENVY. Maybe that member can make a weekly gratitude list of the about what they appreciate in their peers, their boss or organization, and themselves.
If they choose SHOULDING ON YOURSELF AND OTHERS, maybe replace that habit with asking one more question, based on pure curiosity about someone else’s perspective each day.
The habit of IT’s ONLY HAPPENING TO ME can be replaced with making a habit of finding someone who has been through what they’re going through and being open to that person’s input on ways to manage through the situation.
The habit of USING COUNTER PRODUCTIVE WORDS can be modified by instead being curious about the words you and others are using and how they are effecting outcomes. Simply having a raised awareness of the words you use can quickly help change them to ones that trigger your higher level thinking, rather than being in the “auto pilot” mode of thinking.
Finally, modifying the habit of TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FOR is a matter of having gotten in the habit of asking about your boundaries of authority at the BEGINNING of a process or project, instead of halfway through it.
You might find this 15-min YouTube video on building mental strength helpful: The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong/Amy Morin. Other articles that can assist you in thinking through patterns and habits that sabotage your success are: