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When Good Habits turn Bad

2 Jul 2015   Shanti Gowans

When Good Habits turn bad

Sometimes the most productive habits can turn out to be unproductive. Here are some thought why things that you might be doing that will cause your to trip up.

We fail for a number of reasons. Weak management is perhaps the chief among them. 

Leaders are managers. Most importantly, managers of “self”. As a leader, it’s important to know what works… and in life,you will find that it becomes increasingly important to quickly learn what doesn’t.

Self-assessment must plays a key role in a life that thrives. Knowing what “not to do” distills the narrative and can truly benefit every emerging leader.

So, here’s a look at some aspects that you can single-handedly do to ensure that you don't trip yourself up.


Are you too single-minded to be effective?

Often, we do something habitually because we know that something really well. However, knowing something isn’t akin to knowing everything. Knowing when to exercise your genius, and when to seek counsel is important. Why does this matter? Here’s the thing. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. You could be hammering away at things that look like a nail, all the while driving problems deeper into the surface. Instead, step back and look closer, perhaps through a different lens.

Are you a slave to your emotions?

Have you ever heard the adage, “Money is a good servant, but a terrible master”? The same can be said of our emotions. Emotions can ignite your passion and fuel creative vision. In contrast, when misappropriated, the same emotions that served you well can undermine your progress. Emotions left unchecked can lead to escalated tensions, erratic emotional outbursts and irrational decisions. These things don’t bode well in life - ever. This doesn't imply that you need to become a mean or cold person, in the words of "M" in Casino Royale "Judge the situation dispassionately".  

Do you take too many shortcuts?

When You want results, but have little understanding of the cost. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge proponent of 'working smart'. But there are some things in life that, though you may work smart they will, in fact, be hard. You’ll encounter steep learning curves. And in some cases, taking a shortcut can cost you down the line. You will quickly find yourself back at square one if you insist on the easy way instead of the correct way.

Do you let your problems define you?

Successful leaders and entrepreneurs are committed and relentless problem solvers. When you run into a problem that can’t be solved overnight, how do you respond? Do you define your entire journey by one bump in the road? Or do you take a practical approach, though frustrated, to stay solution-minded instead of problem-focused? Human beings that are defined by their problems, instead of catalysed by them, are one problem away from updating their resume.

Do you expect someone to hand it to you?

If you’re always looking for a handout, you are missing a really huge point in life. Most people who need to cross a river are steadily looking around for a boat by the shore. In some cases, you may be able to buy a boat, or hitch a ride on a ship – but largely, more often than not, you’ll need to build your own. This means grabbing a saw, wood and so on. Most importantly, making sure you can swim before you catch some wind in your sails. This might seem like a slightly long metaphor but it highlights that sometimes you're your best bet! 

Do you fail to prepare?

There’s a biblical parable that goes something like this: Two farmers desperately need rain. But only one of them goes out and prepares his fields to receive it. Which are you? Remember: If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!

Do you trust your own vision?

Inspiration is one thing, plagiarising the work of others is quite another. There’s a fine line between admiration and being too lazy to spark your own ideas. Generally speaking there are no “new” ideas; there are mostly remixes – and that’s okay. But don’t forget to be true to your own vision. An original is always superior to a copy.

Do you care too much about what people think?

To be successful you must be skilled at forming your own thoughts. While inputs and perspectives are often needed - information is currency after all, however, at the end of it all, you will have to become comfortable thinking for yourself; without second guessing or devaluing your own ideas. Remember: when you buy someone’s advice, you also buy their lifestyle. Invest wisely.

Does your ego needs its own parking space?

We all have an ego; and some of ours are much larger than others. But for your life to really take off you’ll need to leave your ego at the door. A poorly managed ego can be detrimental – leaving in its path collateral damage of mismanaged finances, poor leadership choices, and missed opportunities, all in the name of “I, Me Mine!”

Are you all over the place?

One minute you’re doing this. The next minute you’re convinced it’s that. When you lack singular direction and focus you’ll find yourself being mediocre at many things and excellent at none. Channel your energies into doing one thing better than the rest. Walt Disney once said "Do what you do so well, that people will want to come back and bring their friends". 

Is it everyone else’s fault, really?

When things go wrong, who do you blame? Sure, your new web developer took you for a joy ride and left you with empty pockets. But did you vet them first? Did you set up a payment structure that mitigated risks? Did you outline the scope of work, clearly and in writing? Things will go wrong in life, but don’t be fooled – the buck starts and stops with you, my dear, dear friend. For the good, bad and in between, take responsibility for what goes wrong and what goes right.

Do you want to be popular instead of profitable?

Popularity doesn't pay bills. Ironic isn’t it? This mindset is doomed. Be focused on your product, your market and turning a profit. Attending every conference under the sun won’t improve your margins. Tweeting until dusk may not be the most effective use of your time. Sure! It’s really fun and novel to get press, but don’t mistake press for a pay cheque.

These principles can serve as a reminder. We’ve all made mistakes. To be successful you must learn to leverage them. So, do your best to manage these behaviors and quickly correct course when you take a wrong turn. When you do, you’ll save time, money and preempt headaches down the road. Mastering yourself places you in a powerful position to succeed in life and business.


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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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