“An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.” – William Somerset Maugham
Lots of people bite their nails… chew with their mouths open… swear like sailors… whine when they don’t get their way. If you’re aware that you have one of these bad habits, you’re probably taking measures to change it. But here’s something you might be surprised to learn: You could have bad habits you’re not aware of that could be preventing you from achieving your goals.
Many years ago, I needed to install a new phone system in my office. The new system would make it easier for people in the company to interact with clients. Plus, the system’s conference feature was going to enable us to speak with colleagues and clients all over the country. It may sound like a small thing, but getting this system installed was going to help me achieve my goals of growing my business.
Roy Speer – who was one of the inspirations for The Billionaire Way – recommended a specific vendor for the phone system. But when I contacted the vendor, he acted like he was doing me a “favor” by speaking to me. This set me off. Because of his attitude and approach, I didn’t want to work with him. And after I got done yelling at him, he didn’t want to work with me either. So I was back to the drawing board, looking for another vendor.
When I told Roy my version of the story, he didn’t agree with how I’d handled the situation. He patiently showed me how my negative behavior delayed the result I was after: getting a new phone system installed. And by delaying that, I was impeding the overall progress of my business.
Roy taught me four valuable lessons:
- Carry your strength behind you and call on it only when appropriate. Do not wear it like a shield in front of you that pushes people away.
- Whether speaking on the phone or in person, assume you are being tape-recorded and govern yourself accordingly.
- Being too aggressive can alienate people. And that is the exact opposite of what you want to do. Rather, you want to bring people to you for their guidance, assistance, ideas, and services. Who wants to be around someone who seems too intense and aggressive? No one!
- I used to be “over the top” and easily triggered to come right at you, almost in your face. I thought I was being passionate about my beliefs. And how could that be offensive? Well, when you exhibit too much intensity in your words, demeanor, deeds, and actions it can come across as aggression. But I have since learned to cultivate a less offensive approach to dealing with people and handling situations. And it has undoubtedly prevented me from slowing down my own rate of success.
Now if you think you’re exempt from the success-inhibiting behaviors I’m talking about here, you’re wrong. We ALL have some behavior or personality trait that could use some work.
Identify the Habits You Want to Change
Think about the behaviors that annoy you in other people. These are often the same ones you should be avoiding. Off the top of my head, I can think of 12 common behaviors that keep people from achieving the success they deserve: impatience, anger, procrastination, being defensive, being critical, being negative, being too controlling, being too shy, being too aggressive, being inflexible, not being punctual, having a hard time making decisions.
The first step to identifying behaviors you want to change is to look at your behavior patterns HONESTLY.
Like I said, I dismissed my aggressive behavior as an expression of my passionate nature. It took two incidents to get me to realize it was a problem and that I needed to make a change. The first was the conversation I had with Roy Speer about the phone vendor. The second was when my wife, Karin, kindly mentioned that I sometimes came across as “intense.”
So take a good hard look at your behaviors. Are you really the perfect angel you think you are? Probably not. Pinpoint the behaviors that could be holding you back and commit to eliminating them from your life.
Change isn’t easy. But if you work on changing your bad behaviors, you can accomplish your goals that much faster.
Remember: There is a difference between learning what to change and implementing the changes. And once you’ve implemented the changes, you must sustain them.
Over a period of time, sustaining your new and positive behavior will become second nature. You may not lose the anger, aggression, impatience, or controlling habit altogether… but you will be aware of it and thus can quickly “nip it in the bud.”
3 Tips to Help You Banish Your Bad Behaviors
Tip #1: “Check” your emotions at the door, just like you would check your coat before going into a party. You don’t want to bring emotional baggage into the office, into meetings with co-workers and clients, or to social and networking events.
Tip #2: Train yourself to BE IN THE MOMENT when working on your goals or when you’re with people. Don’t think about your upcoming deadlines, what to cook for dinner, or the weekend’s plans.
Tip #3: DON’T OVERSCHEDULE yourself. This will reduce impatience, irritability, and the feeling of being rushed.
Your 14-Day Self-Improvement Plan
Over the next two weeks:
- Choose two behaviors to focus on changing.
- Post reminders in a place where you’ll see them every day – on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror or in your daily planner.
- Write down some solutions for change. For example, if you tend to be defensive, you’ll practice not explaining yourself so often.
- Ask others to support you in this effort. Tell your “support team” (family, friends, or co-workers) what you are working on and ask for their feedback. Be willing to listen and learn from their comments and suggestions.
- At the end of the two weeks, grade yourself on how well you did.
It is normal to “relapse” occasionally into your old behavior patterns. Simply recommit to changing those habits and go through the same 14-day process.[Ed. Note: Bob Cox is the creator of The Billionaire Way. He’s also the voice of ETR’s Total Success Achievement Program, which aims to help you get out of debt… lose 10 pounds… start a profitable business… and blast through any obstacle along the way. We’re putting the finishing touches on our 2008 Total Success Achievement Program right now. So keep reading ETR for more details about how to make 2008 the year you accomplish all your dreams.]