(I originally wrote this for Thought Catalog)
I have mentored, counseled, encouraged, discouraged, hired and fired hundreds of people over the past 25 years. Oftentimes failure is less about a lack of talent or ability, and more about self-sabotage. These are frequent road blocks I see in people, myself included.
1. You are lazy.
Most of us default to indolence. We take the easy way. We get comfortable. We like a routine. This may be fine for 90%. If you are reading this, I suspect it’s not fine for you. So get off your ass and get started.
2. You lack focus.
You start out great. You spend thirty minutes of uninterrupted time putting together a plan, making a list, and polishing your resume, so you decide to take a break. You check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, your friend’s blog, Game of Thrones, iTunes, etc. and two hours later you’re back. No one gives a shit about your high score on Candy Crush or Flappy Birds.
3. You are too isolated.
This isn’t 1930’s Hollywood. No one is going to pluck you from obscurity or discover you working at a diner.
If you were going to advance your goals with the help of the people you hang out with right now then you’d already be on your way. But you aren’t. So get out. Meet new people. Do you have a great idea? Call me. Find someone who has a career you want and reach out to that person. What have you got to lose?
4. You fear rejection.
You know the answer to the question posed above: “What have you got to lose?” Nothing. But you still won’t do it because you are afraid of rejection. If you call me with your great idea, chances are I will decline. This may have nothing whatsoever to do with you or your idea. So don’t do what is next.
5. You give up too easily.
Many of the cases I have won and most of the money I have made is because someone on the other side gave in. Quit. Especially when things got a little dicey.
Know this: there are very few obstacles that cannot be overcome. Hang in there and you will be amazed at what happens. You will achieve much of your success by attrition.
6. You bitch too much.
Stop complaining. It’s a waste of time. Your problems are not unique to you. Get over it.
7. You buy into other’s perceptions of you.
There was a busboy at one of my favorite restaurants who wanted to be a chef. Unfortunately, the owner of the restaurant never thought of him as anything but a busboy. So he quit. He went to work for another restaurant where he started again as a busboy. But he made it clear that he wanted to eventually be a chef. Now he is one hell of a chef.
8. You listen to other people.
“You’ll never get that job.” “You have to have a (blank) degree to work there.” “They’re not hiring.”
The sad truth is that most people don’t care whether you succeed. They really don’t give more than a fleeting thought to something you think about every waking moment. Don’t listen to them. They don’t know.
9. You are waiting for the perfect job.
There’s no such thing. Even if you work for yourself you are always working for someone else. Take a job that allows you creative freedom or some means of independence or some level of fulfillment and ignore the rest of the bullshit that comes along with it until you find one that offers even more.
10. You lie to yourself.
Our brains are wonderful at self-delusion. We tell ourselves we are smarter than we are, more handsome than we are, funnier than we are. This leads to arrogance which leads to complacency. Be brutally honest with your self-evaluation. Are you living up to your potential? Are you working hard every day? Are you good at your job?
11. You rest on your past accomplishments.
You made good grades in college. You wrote a novel. You were a high school track star. That’s past tense. As Babe Ruth, the greatest hitter of all time, said: “Today’s ball games aren’t won with yesterday’s home runs.”
No one gives a shit about what you accomplished yesterday. What are you doing today?
12. You compare yourself to others.
There are thousands of talented people out there, many of whom are better than you at whatever it is you want to do. There are lawyers and entrepreneurs who are immensely more talented than me. I really don’t spend time comparing myself to them. I just concentrate on steps 1 through 11 above and the rest usually takes care of itself. Besides, I don’t always have to run faster than the bear. I just have to run faster than one other person.