Some Useful Guidelines for Success

There’s no specific theme to this piece, just a collection of valuable advice that will help you become more productive and successful in your work and your life.

In no particular order, they are:

Cull Negative Co-Workers

Before you are through, you will have countless opportunities to work with many people – as colleagues, subordinates, bosses, and partners. One of the smartest things you can do is minimize the time and energy you spend working with:

  • People you don’t like and respect.
  • People who don’t like and respect you.
  • People who are untrustworthy, unreliable, selfish, or negative.
  • People who are difficult, violent, manipulative, or abusive.

Not only will interactions with these people feel unpleasant, sap your energy, and produce substandard results, they will nearly always end badly.

Save yourself a lot of heartache and trouble: stay away from such people as much as possible.

Of course, if you’re a generous person you may want to engage with one of these people for a while, trying to upgrade their behavior. But that’s not necessary, and it’s difficult to accomplish. If a few honest attempts prove fruitless, it’s almost certainly going to be better to stop trying and move on.

Think Analytically

You’re probably aware of the iconic, perhaps apocryphal, Google interview questions along the lines of: “Estimate the number of tennis balls that can fit into an airplane” or “How many haircuts do you think happen in America every year?”

The point of the question is not to learn the answer, but to evaluate the candidate’s analytical abilities. These abilities are important because – more than any hard skills or specific factual knowledge – knowing how to dissect a larger problem into relevant, bite-size chunks you can solve directly will help you navigate a wide variety of difficult situations.

Cultivate your analytic abilities and you will significantly improve your level of productivity and success.

Carefully Manage Your Apologies

Many people have the habit of apologizing when they shouldn’t. For example, they’ll say “I’m sorry” when crossing the path of another person in a store or on a sidewalk, or even in normal interactions when they’ve done nothing wrong.

Some people take this a step further and undercut their own experience, knowledge, and ideas with an unnecessary disclaimer, such as: “I’m just saying,” or “You may know more than me,” or “If this makes sense,” or even “I may be wrong about this.”

Apologizing when you don’t need to is a bad habit because it not only tells the other person that you’re OK with being slightly (or greatly) disrespected, this attitude and these utterances have a feedback effect that slowly but steadily erodes your self-esteem.

Of course, it’s entirely appropriate to apologize when you’ve done something wrong or made a mistake. But when you haven’t, don’t.

Fully Engage

There has been a lot of information bandied about on multitasking, but science is beginning to learn than this whole concept is a myth.

Instead of trying to pay attention to several things at once, let that myth fall by the wayside and learn to fully engage in whatever is most important right now.

Full engagement allows you to bring to bear on the matter all your physical, emotional, intellectual, and even spiritual faculties. This level of engagement supports you performing at your best and getting the most from each experience.

In addition, full engagement transmits to others your intense level of interest in the matter, which helps others who are involved to feel they are meaningful and important to you. As you can understand, interacting with people at anything less than your full engagement sends a message that borders on – and can even cross over into – disrespect.

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