As you know, being successful is challenging. Unexpected problems continually pop up and finding solutions can be frustrating. Many difficulties often stand in your way, sometimes stirring a sense of helplessness or self-doubt.
Fear not. Positive psychologists have studied the super successful people in the world. And we have strategies that will greatly enhance your chances of accomplishing your goals. Yes, better results, enhanced collaboration and even quicker promotions can be in your future.
Success strategy #1: The world of work is complex and ever-changing. Many people believe they have little control over achieving positive outcomes in the face of conflicting demands, bewildering senior leadership and problematic employees. But that’s simply a mistaken belief based on years of experience.
Accept that the world of work will constantly present difficult and unexpected challenges. It’s not personal. Nor is anyone to blame. Problems happen. Dealing with problems is actually what gives our life purpose. Sometimes difficulties can be foreseen; frequently they’re unexpected. It’s just how the world (doesn’t) work.
Confronting a steady stream of problems can make it feel like things are out of control at times. But your job is not to keep everything under control. It’s to shift yourself to a higher level of thinking that enables you to respond more effectively than you have in the past. As you know, you’ll go crazy if your reactions remain the same, and you expect a different result.
Success strategy #2 : Change your mindset to embrace the fact that intention – not past behavior – is the best predictor of future action. Because your brain conceptualizes problems in the context of the past, you will have to develop the ability to shift your thinking away from only seeing the obstacles.
To move forward requires that you see what a positive outcome would look like. Literally. Your brain works on pictures, so you need to actually generate a movie in your mind in which you see a solution that would provide some degree of satisfaction for everyone involved. Then you can start to brainstorm possibilities for how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
Success strategy #3 : Embrace the wisdom in the old adage, “People plan; God laughs”. You need a plan, and you need to plan to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan. Try new approaches, and know that you’re engaging in trial and error learning.
My personal mantra is “No mistakes, only lessons”. That thought serves as a reminder to shift myself to a higher level of responding. I’ve found that wondering “What did I learn from that experience that informs my ability to make a better decision?” is far more efficacious than berating myself over the mistake.
Success strategy #4 : So now you have a new, higher level approach that you’re ready to try. So far, so good. But then it’s time to take action to implement your new solution to the problem. Odds are you won’t do it.
Human beings are hardwired to be fearful. And people who aspire to be successful are afraid of failing. We often distract ourselves rather than take a risk. Distractions, such as eating, drinking or going online, are behaviors that serve to dull the pain of the problem and our fear of not being good enough. So we turn our attention to something we know will make us feel better. We distract ourselves so often that the pattern of turning away from the problem to indulge in a short-term feel good behavior becomes unconscious and automatic.
Whenever you think about upping your game by trying a new behavior, you must also address the obstacle within you. Ask yourself, “What is it within myself that’s most likely to keep me from taking action?” Identify the block. And if nothing comes to mind right away, dig deeper.
Once you can say what it is that you’re likely to do to distract yourself, use that information as a signal that you’re about to regress rather than progress. Create an intention: “If ____ happens, then I will ____.” If-Then plans have been found to be remarkably effective at helping people actually implement new, higher-level responses.
Success strategy #5 : Share the struggle to overcome obstacles. You can’t solve problems on your own. First of all, you don’t know what other people need for a win-win outcome. And even when you do, you need their help to get there.
Ask: Who can encourage me? Who’s good at envisioning solutions? Who can help me implement those ideas?