I’ve spent some time around unsuccessful people.
Most of them live in a bubble of hopelessness trying to figure out how to break out of their cell (or cubicle). It’s sad. One person I know is so unhappy and stuck that he seems to always be moving backward, not forward—faltering so much in his lack of productivity that it’s almost comical. Being around unsuccessful people is never fun.
If you listen to folks who can’t seem to push ahead in their career or who have never started a company or led large groups of people, they all seem to mimic the same speech patterns. They talk the same language. Here are the 10 phrases they always use. Spot this negative talk in others (or in yourself), and you’ll find the wrench in your business’ growth.
1. That’s Impossible
The most unsuccessful people are always pointing out what is not possible. “Oh, we can’t make an app like that because it will compete too much with Tumblr” or “That new Bluetooth speaker won’t generate any sales because there are too many on the market already.” They live in a world of impossibilities; they have a can’t-do attitude. And they are sinking the ship of success.
2. I Can Do it All Myself
When you hear someone on your team or a colleague insisting how she can finish a project or how he can complete the work better without any help from other employees, take note: That person is going to slow things down and is ruining the project. He or she will not create an atmosphere of success but has only his or her ambition in mind. Ironically enough, unsuccessful people are always those who push their own agenda and don’t see the value of teamwork. That’s the very thing that ruins their careers.
3. I Have a Problem With That
Nitpickers never prosper. I remember going to meetings in my corporate career with dozens of people sitting at tables in a big room. Inevitably, someone would always stand up and start venting about some highly specific pet peeve in front of the entire crowd. He or she should have started wearing a sign that said “unsuccessful” to the meeting. He or she found one problem and then overfocused on it to bring the whole team down.
4. Don’t Forget the Details
People who are really unsuccessful are crippled by their task list. The most successful people are those who see the goal and know how to get there. Most important, they know that the details on a project are a means to an end. Finishing a task list is not a sign of success; creating a lasting company that makes an outstanding product is.
5. I Like My Own Idea
Have you noticed how people at work sometimes like only their own ideas? It is a sign of selfishness and shows an inability to embrace the team objective. It also spells disaster. Those who like and promote only their own ideas are severely limited, because none of us can achieve success with only our own ideas. Imagine trying to build a company by never entertaining any other ideas. Collaboration always propels a company forward.
6. I Don’t Need Your Input
Here’s another phrase people use when they have decided not to work as a team. It’s a little different from saying you can do it all by yourself. It means that person is not even open to ideas. Projects stall out and fizzle when those on the team stop seeking input from others. When a curmudgeon comes along and says he or she doesn’t need any more input from anyone, that person has essentially decided not to be a success.
7. I Already Know That
This phrase is a sign of pure defensiveness—it means a grumbler in your company has stopped trying to learn and grow and has become more interested in being perceived as all knowing. It’s one thing to speak knowledgeably about a topic and add insight; it’s another to constantly insist on being the only smart one. One is a sign of being helpful to a project, and the other is a sign of pure self-ambition.
8. Let Me Check My Schedule
If someone always insists on checking his or her schedule for availability, that person is inhibiting a project’s success. It might be a valid excuse, but it could also be a way to avoid being helpful. In my experience, it means that person is sending a message about being too busy to help a project along and too focused on a personal agenda. He or she says, “Let me check ‘my’ schedule” instead of figuring out the overall needs. Sometimes, it’s better to just jump on an opportunity and worry about scheduling later.
9. You Must Be Wrong About That
Wait, the other person must be wrong? Really? This phrase is a red flag on the road to success, because the person saying it is assuming the people he or she works with are dummies; the person believes there is only one “right” person in the room. That’s rarely the case. Instead, it’s a sign of success when you admit you need help. It’s better to accept that others might be right about something and accept your own limitations.
10. I Can’t
Unsuccessful people like to talk about what they can’t do. Starting a company means embracing the fact that there will be countless roadblocks. Talk about what you can do. People will tell you what is not possible, but when anyone starts using the word can’t, it means trouble. Saying you can’t do something means you forgot about a basic tenet: That person has started to take no for an answer and stopped looking for workarounds.
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